A year later, the question remains: Who shot Secoriea Turner?



The 8-year-old died in her mother’s arms on July 4, 2020

A year later, Secoriea Turner’s mother finds it hard to go out, or even to smile.

“She tries, I can tell,” said Secoriea’s aunt, Sha’Coria Turner. “She had to hold her baby, saying, ‘Mommy,’ for the last time, while letting go.”

Secoriea Turner, a buoyant rising third-grader who loved unicorns and dancing, was shot and killed when someone fired at the Jeep she and her mother, Charmaine Turner, were riding in on July 4, 2020. She was 8.

The Jeep had encountered an armed group of strangers near the burned-out Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks had been killed by a police officer.

Police have said as many as four people fired. One arrest has been made. The Atlanta Police Department has declined to answer questions, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Secoriea’s parents have pleaded for witnesses to come forward in tearful news conferences and vigils. They backed a video and a billboard seeking tips. They have also sued the city, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Rodney Bryant, accusing all three of negligence.

Protesters had camped at the Wendy’s site, calling for police reforms and for the charred building to be replaced with a community center to honor Brooks. Officials had allowed protesters to stay at the site while they negotiated demands with the city, on condition the road not be blocked. An armed group, denounced by protest leaders who asked them to leave, blocked the road repeatedly.



Secoriea’s family and their attorneys say the city should’ve taken action to make the site safer.

“We are forced to live through this day by day,” Turner said after the announcement of the suit. “We deserve justice. Someone needs to be held accountable.”

Secoriea’s parents, through the Davis Bozeman law firm, declined to comment this week.

Credit: Handout photo

Credit: Handout photo

“My soul hurts so bad — so bad,” Sha’Coria Turner said. “I feel like they don’t understand what they took away.”

Charmaine Turner has vowed to go to every court hearing.

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Julian Conley, 20, is accused of aggravated assault and felony murder in the child’s death. While turning himself in back in September, Conley said he’d only witnessed the shooting. “At the end of the day, I had nothing to do with it,” Conley told Channel 2 Action News.

Defense attorney Jackie Patterson said at the time Conley had told him that a man driving the SUV had gone through the barricade and hit a man carrying a rifle.

“And when that person fell to the ground, the person got up and started firing at that vehicle,” Patterson told the news station.

Charmaine Turner has said the shooters opened fire before they could turn around.

Conley had a court hearing on June 22, but it was postponed after Patterson said his client could no longer afford his services. Conley will be assigned a court-appointed attorney. The hearing is now set for July 13.

Police and court records show Conley and another man are charged with assault, accused of pointing AR-15 style rifles at a man near the Wendy’s on the night Secoriea was shot. “This incident occurred within minutes of when Secoriea Turner was murdered,” an officer wrote in a police report.

Conley’s co-defendant faces no charges in Secoriea’s case.

The Atlanta Police Department investigated 157 homicides in 2020, the most in more than two decades. APD data shows investigators cleared — by arrest or finding reason not to prosecute, such as self-defense — 64% of them. That’s in line with the national average. In 2021, the rate is 50 percent, according to APD data released Wednesday. Detectives have issued warrants in 12 cases.

APD documents appeared to consider a homicide cleared if one suspect had been arrested, but many result in multiple arrests. Secoriea’s case is listed as cleared even though police continue seeking suspects.

Similar is the case with the shooting deaths of Erica Robinson, 32, and Joshua Ingram, 20. They were killed a few hours after Secoriea in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.

Police have said a big group had gathered on Auburn Avenue to watch fireworks when a man started doing driving tricks in his blue Chevrolet Camaro. The man, identified by police as De’Andre Brown, 26, lost control of the car, striking two parked vehicles and a pedestrian, police said in September 2020.

A fight broke out, and Brown aimed a gun at someone, police said. Several other people drew guns and started shooting. In all, 15 people were shot. Brown faces murder charges, but police have said they weren’t sure whether he fired the fatal shots and didn’t respond when asked if other arrests were expected.

Like Secoriea, Robinson and Ingram left aching voids when they died.

During Robinson’s funeral service, photos of her smiling flanked a casket topped with a spray of lemon-yellow flowers. Loved ones shared memories of Robinson, who attended Atlanta’s Frederick Douglass High and Albany State University.

Ingram was a 6-foot-6 Georgia State University student. When his mother, Sherlyn Ingram, walked out of Grady Memorial Hospital after he died, she had to stop herself from pouring out her grief to strangers.

She wanted to tell them: “I just lost my baby.”