Murder victim was buying clothes for a new job

Police tell court suspect admitted to fatal shooting in phone call

Brandon Barnes admitted fatally shooting someone in Underground Atlanta on Aug. 12 during a call he made on an Atlanta police detective’s cellphone following his arrest, the investigator testified Tuesday.

From the police interrogation room, Barnes made his first phone call over a speaker phone.

“ ‘I killed that guy. I killed that guy,’ ” homicide Detective Scott Bowers told a judge he overheard Barnes say during his first phone call on the investigator’s city-issued cellphone. “He said he was going away to (the Fulton County jail at) Rice Street, and he wouldn’t be getting out soon.”

Mychal Fair, 22, was shot and killed on the stairway leaving Kinney’s Alley, trying with two of his friends to get away from the downtown mall where the trio had gotten into multiple skirmishes with a group of unknown assailants, police said.

Barnes has been charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a gun during the commission of a felony.

Late Tuesday morning, Mychal Fair’s father, Mike Fair, glared at a shackled Barnes as Fulton County sheriff’s deputies brought the defendant into the courtroom for his probable cause hearing.

Accompanying the older Fair were Mychal Fair’s mother and several dozen family members and family friends, each wearing a red ribbon signifying their unity and support.

“We’re going to make sure justice is served,” family attorney Marwan Porter Jr. said after the hearing. “And we’re going to make sure security is beefed up (at Underground Atlanta).”

Mychal Fair’s mother and father declined to comment.

Police said that just before 4 p.m. Aug. 12, Mychal Fair’s friends got into an argument, then a scuffle with a group of men outside the Foot Locker shoe store in Underground, stemming from what Bowers believed was an “aggressive look” given by one of the individuals.

The group separated, with Mychal Fair attempting to break up the row, but then faced off again at another location in the mall, Bowers said, referring to video surveillance.

Public defender Stanley Constant suggested Barnes might have fired a shot in self-defense.

But Barnes was not involved in the series of physical altercations, prosecutors said.

“What’s caught on video is our defendant standing on the periphery of this altercation,” Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Ana-Helena R. Allen said. “Get together with this unknown male … walk off camera and then follow the victim and his friends outside as they exit.”

Two witnesses, including one of Fair’s two friends, identified Barnes as the shooter, telling police that the 25-year-old, who has been convicted on a prior felony, was seen with a handgun immediately before and during the shooting.

“Witness ‘D’ said the suspect was carrying a bag,” Bowers said the witness told police. “When Witness ‘D’ saw the suspect reach into that bag, he said, ‘I knew what time it was.’ ”

Gunfire followed, police said.

Barnes fired at least six shots at the departing trio, striking Fair several times in the torso, police said.

Another witness, with a broader vantage point from upper Alabama Street, told police he was looking down into the stairwell where the shooting took place and saw Barnes shoot at the three friends, prosecutors said.

That witness, Bowers said, told a Fulton County sheriff’s deputy who was working at the mall, and the two chased Barnes.

A policeman from nearby Georgia State University saw the chase and intercepted Barnes, arresting him and finding a .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun in his possession, Bowers told the court.

Three of the four witnesses police interviewed were able to identify Barnes in a police lineup, Bowers said.

And investigators found six shell casing at the crime scene, he said.

Barnes has had a number of arrests, according to jail records.

Most recently, he was arrested in DeKalb County on an October 2010 charge of theft by receiving stolen property, jail records show.

In July 2008, Barnes was arrested on a burglary charge in East Point, according to Fulton County jail records.

He was arrested by MARTA police in 2006 on allegations of stealing financial transaction cards, and DeKalb County Schools police arrested him in 2005 and 2006 on charges of weapons possession on school property, jail records show.

Barnes will face a Fulton County grand jury on Sept. 17.

He remains in the Fulton County jail without bond, pending a bond hearing that has yet to be scheduled in Fulton Superior Court.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X