“There are too many illegal guns on our streets. ... If you’re a gang leader you will be caught and you will be held accountable. If you’re carrying an illegal firearm, you will face the consequences,” Dickens said, standing with police department officials including interim police Chief Darin Schierbaum.
On Sunday night, Atlanta police Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr. stood near the scene of a shooting that killed two people and injured four others, including a child, at Rosa L. Burney Park on Windsor Street.
“As we’ve said countless times, we are just asking the citizens to just find a way to resolve conflict without weapons,” Hampton said during a news briefing. “We are just asking people to step away. We are asking people to let bygones be bygones.”
Sunday’s shooting was the second deadly incident near the park this year. On Jan. 15, Kelvice Roberson Jr., was shot to death and a man injured in what investigators believe was the result of a gun transaction gone wrong. Kelvice, 15, was buried next to his brother, Markeith Oliver, who was shot to death in 2017 at age 18.
Atlanta is just one of many cities nationwide to seen an increase in violence since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Atlanta ranked No. 10 among large U.S. cities for the highest increase in the homicide rate during the pandemic, according to a July 27 study released this week by WalletHub.
The homicide pace for 2022 has slowed down, according to data from the Atlanta Police Department. At the end of April, the department was investigating 61 killings.
After investigating 19 homicides in March and 18 in April, the number dropped to five in May. There were 16 homicide cases in June and then eight in July. Eight homicides were under investigation during the first week of August.
Around 2 p.m. Wednesday, officers were called to a home on McWilliams Road. They arrived to find a woman who had been shot and died before help could arrive, according to police. The woman’s name was not immediately released. Investigators believe the shooting followed a domestic dispute.
It’s those types of personal conflicts that city leaders have repeatedly said can be solved without violence.
Timmie Thomas Jr., shot to death Jan. 3 at the Allen Hills Apartments on Middleton Road, was the first homicide case of 2022. He was 31, the father of six children and four stepchildren, and was pursuing a career in music. The up-and-coming rapper was planning to start performing publicly, his mother said.
“My son didn’t deserve that,” Tonia Conley, Thomas’s mother, recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You don’t have any friends in this world. You have to trust in the Lord.”
Conley believes her son’s death was gang-related, though he wasn’t involved in one. Others watched and even used their cell phones to record her son’s death. Conley has a video, but can’t bring herself to watch it.
“I can’t believe what the world has come to,” she said. “People were laughing.”
A teenager has been charged with murder in Thomas’s death.
2022: 100 as of Aug. 11
August: 8 (as of Thursday)