Siblings among 3 arrested in death of teen at Cobb graduation party

3rd suspect also charged in Douglasville shooting at ‘Sweet 16′ party

Credit: Marietta Police Department

Credit: Marietta Police Department

Marietta police on Friday announced three arrests in the death of a 17-year-old boy gunned down at a graduation party last year.

Grayson Green was killed May 21, 2022, at the entrance to the Walton Village apartments after the party grew out of hand. Two teenage suspects were arrested Tuesday in Newport News, Virginia, according to police, and a third was already in custody at the Douglas County Jail on charges related to another deadly shooting earlier this year.

Siblings Ne’riyah Vargas and Ne’cquo Vargas, both 17 and from Cobb County, and 21-year-old Tahkel Beverly Smart of Paulding County are each facing the same eight charges in Green’s death, including malice murder, aggravated assault and the associated gang charges.

Credit: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

For Beverly Smart, those charges are added to the 80 he was already facing in connection with a shooting in March outside a “Sweet 16″ house party near Douglasville. Samuel Moon, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lithia Springs High School, and Ajanaye Hill, a 14-year-old freshman at Douglas County High School, were killed.

In announcing the arrests, Marietta police did not say how Beverly Smart and the Vargas siblings were connected to Green’s case, and no further information was released about their alleged gang affiliations.

“Detectives have worked countless hours gathering evidence and tracking down suspects,” a Marietta police spokesperson said in a Friday news release. “Today, we are thankful to report that the individuals responsible for his death are being held accountable.”

On the night he was killed, Green was found lying on the pavement outside the gated entrance to the apartment complex. Surveillance footage showed a crowd of about 20 people fleeing the area as the first officers arrived and attempted to revive him.

The 17-year-old had been shot in the chest, and he later died at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

Investigators learned Green was among a large group that relocated to Walton Village after a gathering at an Airbnb outside of Marietta was shut down by the homeowner. The word spread on social media that the party was moving to Roberta Drive, witnesses told police, and it was not sanctioned at the apartment complex.

Green, who was born in Austell and lived in Marietta at the time of his death, was remembered by his family for his love of music and entrepreneurial spirit.

“Grayson was always about business,” his family wrote in his online obituary. “Little League was filled with games and collecting balls no one dare to retrieve that landed in creeks and fields, and selling them back to the teams. He had an infectious smile and laugh, and much to his siblings envy — a double dose of dimples. He has left within us all a lifetime of memories.”

In the year since Green’s death, Marietta police continually called upon the public to help them break the case, pleading with parents to speak with their children about what they may know. A $10,000 reward was offered in August with the hopes of generating tips.

Despite the three arrests, police do not consider the case closed. A motive was not disclosed.

“While the three suspects are now in custody, the investigation into their activities remains open,” spokesperson Officer Chuck McPhilamy said. “We appreciate the patience and trust of Grayson’s family while we methodically gathered evidence to hold the suspects accountable.”

The Vargas siblings are being extradited from Virginia and are expected to be booked into the Cobb jail, McPhilamy said. Smart has remained in custody in Douglas since his April 1 arrest in the “Sweet 16″ case, which has garnered at least four other arrests.

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