Man killed at DeKalb condo during search for missing Clarkston 1-year-old

Deonna Bray (right) and her family searched for her 1-year-old son, Blaise Barnett, for more than 36 hours before he was found safe Thursday afternoon. Bray said he was strapped into the family's Ford Explorer when someone drove off with the vehicle early Wednesday morning.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
Deonna Bray (right) and her family searched for her 1-year-old son, Blaise Barnett, for more than 36 hours before he was found safe Thursday afternoon. Bray said he was strapped into the family's Ford Explorer when someone drove off with the vehicle early Wednesday morning.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Investigators believe a deadly shooting Wednesday night at a condemned DeKalb County condominium complex is connected to the kidnapping of 1-year-old Blaise Barnett.

Aziz Hassan, 60, was killed just before midnight Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after Blaise and his family’s Ford Explorer were taken from their home in Clarkston, and 12 hours after the SUV was found abandoned in tall bushes at the Brannon Hill complex. Another 12 hours would elapse before the child was found safe Thursday afternoon and reunited with his mother.

ExploreAfter 36 hours, Clarkston 1-year-old found within a mile of home

Two people, 38-year-old Delarius Miller and 34-year-old Santana Miller, are facing murder charges in Hassan’s death. According to Channel 2 Action News, they were among a search party that went door to door in the complex late into the night. The Millers are cousins of the child’s father, Xavier Barnett.

Their relationship to each other was not disclosed.

“Investigators believe the motive for the shooting is related to the kidnapping of the 1-year-old boy,” DeKalb police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent said in an email. “There’s no evidence to suggest that Mr. Hassan had any involvement in the kidnapping of the 1-year-old.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Delarius Miller (left) and Santana Miller were arrested on charges of malice murder in a Wednesday night shooting at the Brannon Hill condominium complex, the same complex were a vehicle stolen in a Clarkston kidnapping was discovered hours earlier.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Delarius Miller (left) and Santana Miller were arrested on charges of malice murder in a Wednesday night shooting at the Brannon Hill condominium complex, the same complex were a vehicle stolen in a Clarkston kidnapping was discovered hours earlier.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Combined ShapeCaption
Delarius Miller (left) and Santana Miller were arrested on charges of malice murder in a Wednesday night shooting at the Brannon Hill condominium complex, the same complex were a vehicle stolen in a Clarkston kidnapping was discovered hours earlier.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Investigators believe Delarius Miller was at a Brannon Hill condo “with several others” when he shot Hassan at 11:40 p.m. Wednesday after a dispute, according to Vincent. Hassan died at the scene, and police detained both Delarius and Santana Miller during their initial investigation. Only the man was arrested Wednesday.

The woman was arrested Sunday, according to police. Both are being held without bond in the DeKalb County Jail.

Blaise Barnett was reported missing at 1 a.m. Wednesday from the Parc 1000 apartments at 1000 Montreal Road. According to a police report, Blaise’s parents were running bags of groceries to their apartment and returned to the parking lot to find their vehicle and their son gone. Deonna Bray, the child’s mother, later said they were unloading bags of clothes.

ExploreCops find stolen SUV, but Clarkston 1-year-old still missing

A tipster led police to the Brannon Hill complex, where the Ford was discovered shortly before noon Wednesday. Residents told Channel 2 the family terrorized the community while frantically searching for Blaise.

“That night I didn’t sleep because they are knocking the door and they are loud, shouting,” Fowsia Abdullhai told the news station. “Knocking the people’s door and asking, ‘Can we look around and check if you have the son, the missing son?’”

Blaise was not found until the following day. A woman told police she saw Blaise sitting in her car in her driveway, brought him inside and called 911, according to Channel 2. The child was recovered about 2:45 p.m. Thursday, within a mile of his home, and was reunited with his family soon after. He did not appear to be harmed, authorities said.

“He’s perfect,” Bray said in an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Friday morning. “I just felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I just felt like, now I know my baby’s safe.”

The kidnapping case prompted national media attention and involved both the GBI and the FBI. Clarkston police Sgt. Dustin Bulcher declined to provide any updates in the case Monday, citing the ongoing investigation. No suspects have been publicly identified, and no arrests have been announced.