August a historically deadly month in Atlanta, police warn

Officials hope to curb domestic violence, fatal shootings
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum speaks to reporters Thursday at Atlanta Public Safety Headquarters. (Arvin Temkar /



Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum speaks to reporters Thursday at Atlanta Public Safety Headquarters. (Arvin Temkar /

In recent weeks Atlanta police arrested a man accused of killing his girlfriend whom he believed cast a spell on him, a woman accused of shooting her neighbor over a pair of nail clippers and a mother who allegedly shot her 17-year-old son during a fight about a PlayStation.

While homicides are down across the city for the first time in years, authorities said August is a historically deadly month, in part because of a rise in domestic violence cases.

There were 20 people killed in August of 2020, 26 killed in August 2021 and 23 killed last August, Atlanta police said Thursday.

“This is our bad month. This is when our numbers are absolutely highest.” said Maj. Pete Malecki, who heads the department’s major crimes section. “It can be a petty argument over a voodoo spell or a pair of nail clippers that leads to gun violence in our city.”

Atlanta police Lt. Germain Dearlove, the department's homicide commander, speaks about reducing crime during what has historically been the city's deadliest month.  (Arvin Temkar /


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Department officials seem encouraged by the recent decline in killings, which fell more than 20% from this time last year. They have credited a “drugs, guns and gangs” approach to curbing some of the gun violence, along with an expansion of youth outreach programs. But once again, police are encouraging Atlanta residents to put down the weapons and try to settle their differences peacefully.

“We cannot, as a police department, be present in every living room in those heated moments,” said Chief Darin Schierbaum, who hopes to break the trend of double-digit homicides in what has become Atlanta’s deadliest month.

Authorities say the summer heat and students returning to school could be driving factors in the annual surge in violence, though they don’t have definitive answers. As of Thursday, there have been nearly 1,200 cases of domestic violence opened across the city since Jan. 1. Such cases are generally defined as those involving couples, a parent and child, siblings, roommates or even neighbors.

To help combat domestic violence, Atlanta recently adopted a 911 system that allows victims and witnesses to contact dispatchers without actually having to talk on the phone. The ability to text with dispatchers could potentially save someone who is unable or unwilling to call for help, said Atlanta E-911 Director Desiree Arnold.

The system allows dispatchers to pinpoint callers without having to ask their exact location. It can also provide call centers with video, photo, and conferencing capabilities to better connect first responders with those seeking help.

In addition, more resources have been allocated toward helping the victims of domestic violence receive counseling, medical attention, financial assistance and even restraining orders against abusive partners.