13-year-old arrested in shooting at DeKalb skating rink

April 21, 2022 Tucker - DeKalb County Police Chief Mirtha Ramos speaks to members of the press during a news conference outside DeKalb County Police Headquarters in Tucker on Thursday, April 21, 2022. A 13-year-old boy was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the shooting outside a skating rink earlier this month that left 11-year-old D’Mari Johnson severely injured. DeKalb County police announced the arrest at a news conference. No motive was released. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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April 21, 2022 Tucker - DeKalb County Police Chief Mirtha Ramos speaks to members of the press during a news conference outside DeKalb County Police Headquarters in Tucker on Thursday, April 21, 2022. A 13-year-old boy was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the shooting outside a skating rink earlier this month that left 11-year-old D’Mari Johnson severely injured. DeKalb County police announced the arrest at a news conference. No motive was released. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

A 13-year-old boy was arrested Thursday morning in connection with a shooting outside a DeKalb County skating rink that left an 11-year-old boy clinging to life.

D’Mari Johnson has been in a medically induced coma since the shooting April 9 at Golden Glide. On Thursday, DeKalb police Chief Mirtha Ramos announced the arrest but said investigators have not pinned down a motive. The 13-year-old’s charges were not immediately released.

“While I would like to say that it’s a great day, I’m actually kind of saddened by the fact that we have an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old whose lives, and their families, will never be the same,” Ramos said during a news conference at police headquarters.

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April 21, 2022 Tucker - DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox speaks to members of the press during a news conference outside DeKalb County Police Headquarters in Tucker on Thursday, April 21, 2022. A 13-year-old boy was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the shooting outside a skating rink earlier this month that left 11-year-old D’Mari Johnson severely injured. DeKalb County police announced the arrest at a news conference. No motive was released. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

April 21, 2022 Tucker - DeKalb County Sheriff Melody  Maddox speaks to members of the press during a news conference outside DeKalb County Police Headquarters in Tucker on Thursday, April 21, 2022. A 13-year-old boy was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the shooting outside a skating rink earlier this month that left 11-year-old D’Mari Johnson severely injured. DeKalb County police announced the arrest at a news conference. No motive was released. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
April 21, 2022 Tucker - DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox speaks to members of the press during a news conference outside DeKalb County Police Headquarters in Tucker on Thursday, April 21, 2022. A 13-year-old boy was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the shooting outside a skating rink earlier this month that left 11-year-old D’Mari Johnson severely injured. DeKalb County police announced the arrest at a news conference. No motive was released. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

D’Mari was shot in the back of the head as a crowd of people, mostly children, ran through the parking lot of the skating rink on Wesley Chapel Road. At least seven shots could be heard in cellphone video shared by the boy’s family on social media, and police said investigators found seven shell casings on the ground.

It was a Saturday night and the end of spring break for DeKalb students. According to the family’s attorney, D’Mari walked outside when he received a text from his father, who was waiting in the parking lot to pick him up. He was shot around 11 p.m.

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D’Mari Johnson was shot in the back of the head outside the Golden Glide skating rink in DeKalb County on April 9.

Credit: The Cochran Firm

D’Mari Johnson was shot in the back of the head outside the Golden Glide skating rink in DeKalb County on April 9.

Credit: The Cochran Firm

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D’Mari Johnson was shot in the back of the head outside the Golden Glide skating rink in DeKalb County on April 9.

Credit: The Cochran Firm

Credit: The Cochran Firm

The Johnson family has been vocal in their calls for justice, going so far as to demand the skating rink be shut down. To that end, a Change.org petition started by the boy’s mother has generated nearly 1,500 signatures.

ExploreFamily begs for answers as 11-year-old shot at DeKalb skating rink fights for life

“The family extends its gratitude to the DeKalb County Police Department and the other agencies who assisted them in their investigation of this horrific crime,” the family’s attorney, Shean Williams of the Atlanta-based Cochran Firm, said in a statement. “We are saddened that a 13-year-old could allegedly perpetrate such a heinous act.”

While an update on D’Mari’s condition was not provided, Williams said the family was grateful for the community’s support and asked for their continued prayers for his recovery. They are raising money for medical expenses through a GoFundMe campaign.

The family said there were fights at the rink before the boy was shot. Ramos said Thursday they relied heavily on tips from the community and the support of parents to build their case, acknowledging that it took some time to identify a suspect and make an arrest.

ExploreCops zero in on suspect in 11-year-old’s shooting at DeKalb skating rink

“Before we make an arrest of a 13-year-old, we need to make sure that we have probable cause and that we have strong cases that can withstand scrutiny,” Ramos said.

Since the shooting, DeKalb officials have learned that Golden Glide was operating without a valid business license. The license had not been renewed “for the last year or two,” according to Tim Hardy, deputy director for code compliance.

An inspection performed Wednesday night uncovered minor code violations like electrical issues and peeling paint, Hardy said during Thursday’s news conference. Two citations were issued, one for the lapsed license and another for a crumbling retaining wall that is considered a safety hazard.

The business may continue operating without a license until at least May 3, when owner Robert Davis is scheduled to appear before a magistrate court judge. In a statement posted to the Golden Glide website, Davis said he and his team were “deeply saddened by the horrific shooting in our parking lot.”

“We ask that the community join us as we continue to pray for his recovery,” Davis said “Golden Glide remains committed to assisting law enforcement in its investigation.”

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Golden Glide Skating Rink in Decatur on Thursday April 21, 2022. Eleven-year-old D’Mari Johnson was shot at the skating rink on April 9 and is in a medically induced coma. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Golden Glide Skating Rink in Decatur on Thursday April 21, 2022. Eleven-year-old D’Mari Johnson was shot at the skating rink on April 9 and is in a medically induced coma. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

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Golden Glide Skating Rink in Decatur on Thursday April 21, 2022. Eleven-year-old D’Mari Johnson was shot at the skating rink on April 9 and is in a medically induced coma. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

When asked about previous police calls to the skating rink, Ramos said there have been several incidents in recent years but no homicides or other major crimes. Talks to improve security at the business are underway, the chief said.

According to the police report, a security officer who was inside the rink at the time of the shooting said he heard the gunshots but did not see any suspects once he got outside and spotted the victim lying on the ground.

“Our focus right now has really been on the investigation and getting the suspect into custody, but we will make sure they have enough security to keep people safe, if they decide or chose to attend any events there,” Ramos said.

DeKalb police are still soliciting tips in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 770-724-7850. To remain anonymous and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, tipsters may contact Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, text information to 274637 or visit the Crime Stoppers website.

The Cochran Firm is conducting its own investigation into Golden Glide, and Williams vowed Thursday to “remain vigilant in protecting the children in our community.”

— Staff writer Rosana Hughes contributed to this article.