Buckhead drug deal that killed 3 an isolated incident, leaders say

Exchange inside apartment under investigation, police say
Atlanta police are investigating a deadly shooting Saturday on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Atlanta police are investigating a deadly shooting Saturday on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

Bullets tore through a Buckhead apartment Saturday evening, leaving three men dead and another injured as shoppers and patrons navigated nearby stores and restaurants in one of metro Atlanta’s premier neighborhoods.

But Buckhead backers say the incident is isolated and that crime rates in the area have continued to drop.

Police remained tight-lipped Sunday as they continue to investigate the shootout at 3005 Buckhead on Peachtree Road. Investigators believe the gunfire was the result of a failed drug deal inside an apartment at the complex, located near the intersection with Pharr Road.

The shooting was the second at the 21-story high-rise this year and both involved drug deals, according to Atlanta police.

Jim Durrett, president and CEO of the Buckhead Coalition, said it stemmed from an abundance of guns and drugs on the streets at a time when the north Atlanta community is getting safer. He said violent crime in Buckhead has fallen 25% year over year.

“I hope the community understands that overall the crime statistics in Atlanta, and especially in Buckhead, have been going in the right direction,” said Durrett, who also is executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District. “But we get reminded episodically that there are people out there that are willing to use firearms to get what they want.”

When the dust settled from Saturday’s gunfire, authorities said three of the men died at the scene, while a fourth was alert while being taken to a hospital. The three victims were identified Monday as 22-year-old Javier Leach, 27-year-old Justin Barber and 23-year-old Kingston Cook by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

It is unclear how everything transpired and whether any of the victims knew each other. However, police believe residents at the high-rise invited others in prior to the shootout, Maj. Peter Malecki told reporters at the scene. The complex has roughly 400 apartment homes, according to its website.

“This is an incident that happened inside a unit,” Malecki said, according to Channel 2. “That’s an area that we cannot police. So, we do need common sense to prevail in those situations. And, of course, nothing good comes from drug activity. This department does its best to shut down drug operations. So, if anyone has tips or information, that’s why we ask that you send those our way so we can try to prevent incidents like this.”

Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook, who represents the area, said Atlanta police in Zone 2 have done a good job in protecting residents, but can’t stop every crime.

“They can’t stop people from pulling out guns and shooting each other,” he said. “That’s probably what we have here.”

Saturday’s shooting happened a short distance from the Buckhead Village District, home to several shops and dining establishments. Resident Michael Scott told the news station that he was worried about children and families in the area after seeing the aftermath of the gunfire. “It was horrible out here,” he said.

Still, Shook felt the deadly incident didn’t reflect broader issues of violence in the community.

“I’d be worried if this was a family walking out of a restaurant or something like that, but those cases are so rare,” he said. “Most of the violence is propagated by a violent segment of an increasing violent culture.”

— AJC reporters Leon Stafford and Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.