Family of man killed in ‘nightmare’ Buckhead triple shooting wants answers

Artez Benton, center, poses with his sisters Arteria, left, and Bria after he graduated from Young Harris College last year.

Credit: Provided by Benton family

Credit: Provided by Benton family

Artez Benton, center, poses with his sisters Arteria, left, and Bria after he graduated from Young Harris College last year.

He was a young man who had big dreams.

He was in training to become a certified electrician. He longed to own his own home one day. And he had ambitions of running a successful clothing company.

All those dreams were dashed in a tragic instant when gunshots rang out in the parking lot of a Buckhead shopping center late Sunday night.

Artez Jamil Benton, a 23-year-old DeKalb County native, was one of three men shot when bullets started flying following a dispute in the 2200 block of Peachtree Road, police said.

All three victims were rushed to the hospital. Benton later died.

Family members were still struggling to absorb the devastating news Tuesday evening. Their voices quivered under the weight of emotion as they reminisced about Benton.

“It’s hard,” said Artez’s father, Artis Benton. “He did everything right. I never thought that this would be the end for him.”

Artez was the youngest child and only son of Artis and Bridget Benton. The couple raised their tight-knit family in Scottdale, an unincorporated community in west DeKalb County.

Artez Benton, left, was slain in a shooting in Buckhead late Sunday night. He stands with his 24-year-old sister Arteria, second from left, his mother Bridget, his father Artis and his oldest sister Bria, far right.

Credit: Provided by Benton family

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Credit: Provided by Benton family

They remembered Artez as a wise, hardworking go-getter with a bright smile and a giving heart. His mother described him as a “modern-day hero” and his older sister lauded him for his tireless work ethic, which they both agreed he got from his father.

“Just an overall businessman,” said Arteria Benton, 24. “He just was a giver. He didn’t ask for nothing.”

After graduating with honors from Druid Hills High School just outside of Atlanta, Benton went to Young Harris College, a private liberal arts college in the North Georgia mountains about 100 miles north of downtown Atlanta. He was recruited as a baseball player, but family members said he also got a partial academic scholarship to attend the school.

Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could derail Artez from completing his undergrad courses in four years. He graduated last year with a business degree.

He was in an apprenticeship at Mayberry Electric, an Atlanta-based electrical contractor, working through a five-year program to become a licensed electrician.

Artis remembered his son’s devotion to sports from a young age. He was still close with many of his teammates who grew up together playing baseball together in youth leagues.

In fact, Artez and the group of friends had recently started a clothing line, which they branded Cash Life Global.

Artez Benton, center, and members of he and his friends' clothing line Cash Life Global.

Credit: Provided by family

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Credit: Provided by family

Family members said Artez routinely started his day at 4 a.m. and worked through the day. He spent his nights studying for his apprenticeship. Despite the busy schedule, he still had time to help his father, who runs his own landscaping company, and to train his 8-year-old nephew in baseball.

Sunday’s fatal ordeal rocked not only Artez’s family to the core, but also many members of the community that he touched over the course of his 23 years.

Artis and Bridget have received calls from some of Artez’s former classmates, friends and old coaches from as far back as elementary school.

Young Harris College released a sorrowful statement Monday evening in the wake of Artez’s death.

“Artez Benton’s kind spirit, passion for baseball, and heart for others left a great mark on YHC and every other part of the world he touched,” the college said. “Please join us in lifting up thoughts and prayers for his friends and family in this incredibly difficult time.”

Police say the fatal shooting happened behind a row of shops and restaurants shortly after 11:30 Sunday night. The incident appeared to be sparked by a dispute in the parking lot, according to investigators.

Artis Benton was in disbelief when he got the phone call letting him know that his son had been shot.

“I said, ‘Naw, Tez is in the bed,’ because he would leave at 4 o’clock to go to work every morning,” Artis said.

Bridget said she’s been told he was leaving to go home and go to sleep when the shooting broke out.

Police have not said if either of the three victims was targeted during the shooting. They’ve also yet to reveal any leads on possible suspects.

Artis and Bridget said Tuesday they’ve had trouble getting in touch with detectives and they’ve been frustrated by what they say is a lack of transparency from Atlanta Police Department investigators.

“We’re learning from the news at this point. That’s how bad it is,” Bridget Benton said. “We’re getting information from the news as if we’re bystanders.”

Much of the focus has been on one of the other victims in the shooting. Chaka Zulu, the longtime manager of legendary Atlanta rapper Ludacris, was wounded in Sunday’s shooting. Officials have said he’s stable. Well wishes for Chaka have poured in from celebrities on social media.

But Artez’s family hopes for more than support. They want answers so those responsible can be held accountable.

“We just want justice for Artez,” Arteria Benton said. “That’s the main thing we want. So if you see something, say something please.”