East Point chief asks residents to ‘put your guns down’ after fatal shooting

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Authorities in East Point are begging the public to put their guns down after a man was fatally shot Tuesday at an apartment complex, the 13th homicide in the city so far this year.

Officers were called to The Park at Galaway Apartments about 5 p.m. and found a man suffering from a gunshot wound in the 3200 block of Candlewood Drive, East Point police spokesman Capt. Allyn Glover said.

A witness told officers that a vehicle drove by in the parking lot and fired several shots, striking the victim. The man, who was identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office as 22-year-old Jerry Rice, was taken to a hospital and later died.

Glover added that detectives believe the shooting was a result of an ongoing disagreement between two groups. Authorities are working to identify a suspect in the case.

“These are friends, family members and acquaintances that are being lost at the hands of their own friends, family members and/or acquaintances,” police Chief Shawn Buchanan wrote in a Facebook post.

Less than 24 hours after the shooting, Buchanan is urging the public to work with police to decrease crime. He said gun violence concerns him the most in the city.

“I am asking you as Chief of the Police to put your guns down and talk things out. Think before you act is the message we have expressed to our youth, and I am also asking our adult population to do the same,” he wrote.

Buchanan said the department has arrested a suspect in 85% of its 2022 homicide cases, but that does not ease the pain for families who must bury their loved ones. He encourages residents to resolve conflicts without guns.

“Please think before you act, count to 10, walk away, lower your voice when arguing, which makes the other party lower their voice to hear you, and most important: do not use a gun to resolve a matter,” Buchanan wrote.

A leader of East Point SAFE, a coalition of neighbors, Sheryl Roehl said she was not surprised to see another homicide in the city. Though she applauds Buchanan for pushing the public to stop using guns to solve problems, she thinks more needs to be done.

”It just hurts my heart that there’s just so much of this gun violence right now and I’m struggling to try to figure out why — and why in our community,” Roehl said. “We need to be putting more solutions in place to help people. I really do think so, because the status quo is just not acceptable.”

The most important question she thinks city officials need to address: How do we at the local level put resources in place, not just more cops, to curb crime? As a resident of more than 20 years, Roehl didn’t feel unsafe until the past few years. By June 2020 and 2021, East Point had seven and four homicides, respectively.

”I’m worried about people beginning to leave the community for what they perceive to be safer areas where they don’t have to worry about a stray bullet reaching them as they push their buggy into the Walmart,” she said.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact police at policedepartment@eastpointcity.org or 404-559-6300.

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