Steps from anti-violence rally, a teen is killed at a South Fulton park

Shooting capped another violent weekend in metro Atlanta

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Another violent weekend in metro Atlanta

At one end of a South Fulton park, bounce houses, trays of food and crowds of families marked a community event to end violence. At another, a young shooting victim took his last breaths.

Malik Hambrick, 18, was killed Sunday evening at Welcome All Park, not far from where organizers of the annual Stop the Violence rally addressed the crowd of 200 from the main stage.

South Fulton City Councilmember Helen Z. Willis, who was supporting the event as district representative, said she had just finished her remarks when she heard the gunfire.

She walked over to investigate and saw Hambrick lying facedown in a pool of his own blood.

“When they turned him over, they started trying to resuscitate him, but he was gone,” Willis said, still traumatized. “His mother was there. Immediately, I went over to try to console her. He was shot dead in a park.”

The shooting capped off a violent weekend in metro Atlanta, which saw five teenagers shot outside a downtown Atlanta Waffle House on Saturday night and sent a 16-year-old shot at a Lakewood Heights house party to a hospital Sunday morning. All six were said to be stable, but the Lakewood Heights victim was last listed in critical condition, according to Atlanta police.

In neighboring East Point, a woman was shot and killed at a recording studio on Friday night. Investigators believe Tanasia Conwell knew her killer, according to police.

On Monday morning, yet another shooting along Pharr Road sent Buckhead clubgoers fleeing for their lives. No one was injured by the gunfire, but a bystander was taken to a hospital for another injury.

Willis is concerned by the trend and worries the city and its suburbs are gearing up for a violent summer. Historically, violent gun crimes increase as the weather warms up.

“Our kids are really not getting the message,” she said. “We really have to wrap our arms around our youth. That 18-year-old man had his whole life to live. We’ve got to get the message out to put down the guns.”

According to South Fulton police, Hambrick was attending a private event at another park pavilion and the shooting stemmed from “a dispute amongst parties at the event.”

Homicide Investigation at Welcome All Park South Fulton PD Officers are currently working a shooting at 4255 Will Lee...

Posted by City of South Fulton Police Department on Sunday, April 24, 2022

A person of interest was detained Sunday and later released. No suspects are in custody, but it was believed neither Hambrick nor anyone involved in the dispute were attending the rally, police Lt. Jubal Rogers said Monday.

Willis is turning her attention to shoring up the city’s park ordinances, ensuring staff have a way to police nonpermitted events and to keep guns out of the parks. She would also like the city to start holding parents accountable when their children break curfew, to give the existing ordinance some teeth.

The councilmember cited curfew policies in the cities of Atlanta and East Point as good reference points.

“Summer is approaching us, and kids are going to be out of school,” she said. “We are going to probably encounter that kids are going to go wherever there aren’t policies in place.”

Rather than impose a fine, Willis said she would enroll parents in classes or get them linked up with mentorship and intervention programs for their teenagers. Many of those organizations had representatives at the rally Sunday to connect with families.

Tragically, the one that needed them most was on the other side of the park.