Vigil marking anniversary of teen deaths turns deadly when gunfire erupts

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1 dead, 1 hospitalized after shooting at southwest Atlanta apartments, police say

Friends and family of two teenagers killed last year in southeast Atlanta gathered Monday evening to mark the anniversary of the tragedy, meeting in the same complex where the two boys lost their lives.

But the somber occasion, which included a balloon release, quickly fractured into panic and chaos as deadly gunfire again erupted in the neighborhood plagued by violence.

When the bullets had cleared and peace had been restored, an 18-year-old was among two people shot, according to Atlanta police.

The teen did not survive. On Tuesday, he was identified as Quentyn Burgess by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. The other victim was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and was said to be alert Monday.

“The involved parties were attending a get-together, a vigil, for an event that occurred last year, and shots were fired,” Lt. Germain Dearlove said. “It appears a dispute occurred at this location and that’s what led to the shooting.”

It happened at The Villages at Carver apartments on Moury Avenue, a troubled complex where 18-year-old Nyriek Olds and 17-year-old Jamarquez McCrary were killed in another shooting exactly one year earlier. Months later, police arrested 18-year-old Darshae Barnes and charged him with murder.

Officials said they could not confirm if Monday’s shooting was retaliatory or in any way connected to last year’s, but they are “actively investigating the possibility,” a police spokesperson said.

The 2022 shooting does not appear to be gang-related since Barnes was charged with two counts each of murder, criminal attempt to commit murder and aggravated assault, along with possession of a firearm by a minor and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He does not face gang charges.

The complex, owned and operated by the Atlanta Housing Authority in partnership with the Integral Group, has been riddled with violent crime for years. It’s on the city’s list of properties with chronic crime and is among 275 of the metro area’s persistently dangerous complexes, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Dangerous Dwellings” investigation that looked into serious crimes, lax maintenance and other hazards in Atlanta neighborhoods.

At least three people have been injured in shootings at the complex this year, including a 16-year-old girl who was shot in the arm last month. Last year, four people, including Olds, McCrary and a 16-year-old, were killed by gunfire. And from 2017 to 2021, there were 266 crimes reported to police, according to the AJC’s findings. They included two rapes, 20 robberies and 42 aggravated assaults.

In October 2022, the family of a 2017 homicide victim sued the operators of the complex, alleging insufficient security.

In a statement, Integral Group spokesperson Richard White said it was heartbreaking to hear of the tragic events and that the safety of residents is of “utmost importance” to the company. But neither the perpetrators nor victims were residents of the community, he added, and it’s not the company’s responsibility to police crime in the neighborhood.

“It remains our hope that these (government) agencies will take steps to address the root causes of violence in communities by offering resources, education, support systems for at-risk youth, and, where appropriate, consequences for wanton disregard for human life,” he said.

Dearlove, who commands the police department’s homicide unit, said investigators are still working to learn who was involved in the latest round of gunfire. They have not released a suspect description.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.