Homicides, shootings and assaults all on the rise in Atlanta

July 15, 2021: Atlanta: A man was in critical condition after he was shot Thursday morning, July 15, 2021 at a home in a southwest Atlanta neighborhood, police said. Another man was being questioned following the shooting, which happened in the 3100 block of Imperial Circle, Atlanta homicide Detective Lt. Daniel Jensen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Investigators said that man is not considered a suspect at this time. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
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July 15, 2021: Atlanta: A man was in critical condition after he was shot Thursday morning, July 15, 2021 at a home in a southwest Atlanta neighborhood, police said. Another man was being questioned following the shooting, which happened in the 3100 block of Imperial Circle, Atlanta homicide Detective Lt. Daniel Jensen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Investigators said that man is not considered a suspect at this time. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Crime extends beyond the city limits, records show

Violent and deadly crime is up in Atlanta, but so are efforts to combat it, the city’s police department says.

As of Saturday, the Atlanta Police Department had investigated 79 homicides in 2021, up from 67 at the same time last year and 52 at that point in 2019, the department’s crime data shows. Shootings and assaults have risen along with homicides.

“Violent crime continues to be our number one concern,” the department said in a social media post this week. “The officers at the APD remain committed to providing the highest level of public safety possible in each of our communities. Our officers continue making great arrests, apprehending violent criminals a short time after their crime, and discouraging criminal activity through increased patrols in problem areas.”

The agency reports it is making progress.

May 3, 2021 Atlanta: A growing memorial is seen for 15-year old  Diamond Johnson who was shot and killed over the weekend near the Glenwood Park shopping plaza. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
Caption
May 3, 2021 Atlanta: A growing memorial is seen for 15-year old Diamond Johnson who was shot and killed over the weekend near the Glenwood Park shopping plaza. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

“Our investigators are among the best in the business and their efforts have removed more than 80 criminals from our streets in the past month, with 60 of those being violent criminals, wanted for aggravated assault or murder,” the department’s post said.

Police have made arrests in 54 of the 79 homicides reported through Saturday, the department said Tuesday. At the same time in 2020, police had made 36 arrests in 67 cases.

Last week, the department announced arrests in two 2020 homicide cases, both of which occurred at nightclubs.

On Oct. 29, Caleb Culbreath was shot during a fight over the admission price to Members Only, a lounge on Ralph McGill Boulevard owned by Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz. Culbreath, 27, died at the hospital. Malik Payne, 24, was arrested July 14 by U.S. marshals in Clifton Township, Michigan, and charged with felony murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.

On Nov. 9, police responded to the 2900 block of Campbellton Road and found two men with gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the now-former club The Voo 2. Richard Giles, 27, of College Park, died at the scene. Charles Edward Carlisle, 28, was arrested July 13 by the U.S. marshals in Clayton County and charged with murder, according to police.

Atlanta’s persistent deadly violence has Gov. Brian Kemp’s attention. He said Monday he plans to ask the General Assembly to pass laws to fight crime during a special legislative session this fall. Lawmakers could also vote to allocate money for additional state police officers, Kemp said during a House public safety committee hearing.

On Friday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she wants to create an office of violence reduction and invest $70 million to develop and implement crimefighting strategies. In March, Bottoms said she wants the city to hire 250 more police officers, expand the city’s camera network and license plate reader systems; and add 10,000 more streetlights in the city by Dec. 31, 2022.

ExploreShootings on metro Atlanta roadways this year have killed 15, injured others

Bottoms has repeatedly blamed the spike in violence on what she calls a “COVID crime wave.”

“Because our state was open, and there were many people coming into our city, we were starting to see an uptick in crime before many other major cities, and unfortunately what we saw was just not something happening in Atlanta,” Bottoms said Friday.

Violent crime extends beyond the Atlanta city limits.

At least 45 shootings, 15 fatal, have been reported on metro Atlanta roadways in 2021. Seven of the deadly road shootings were outside of Atlanta, including in Gwinnett, DeKalb and Clayton counties, according to various police agencies. Most of the cases remain unsolved; authorities suspect road rage in many of the incidents.

Kiesen Arnold, 20, was driving on I-20 toward his Fairburn home on June 30 when he heard what he thought was a rock hit the windshield of his Honda Civic. In fact, it was a bullet.

“Everything happened really fast,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We were driving and we heard a loud sound and the glass from the windshield shattered and started hitting us in the face.”

Arnold pulled over, saw the bullet and called the police. A friend who was riding with him was grazed, but not seriously injured.

“We don’t know anybody here and don’t have any issues with anybody, and for something like this to randomly happen? It could have been worse,” said Arnold, who moved to metro Atlanta from North Carolina just weeks ago.

ExplorePerimeter the site of latest shooting at metro Atlanta shopping centers

Metro Atlanta shopping centers have been the scene of at least 10 shootings in 2021, passing last year’s total of eight.

On May 1, 15-year-old Diamond Johnson was shot to death near a Waffle House at the Glenwood Park shopping plaza, according to police. Three weeks later, a suspect was charged with murder in Johnson’s death.

Seven of the 10 shopping center incidents happened outside the city limits. On Monday, a suspect was arrested after firing at a loss prevention officer outside the Perimeter Mall Macy’s, according to Dunwoody police.

“Multiple officers canvassed the area and, thanks to a good description of the suspect, he was taken into custody and the firearm was recovered without incident,” the department said in a social media message.

The Atlanta Police Department says combatting crime is a community-wide effort.

“The solution begins with ensuring we, and our children, know how to properly handle conflict and anger,” its social media post said. “Learning these skills and teaching these skills to our youth will have a lasting impact on the world we live in. We need people to make better choices and we must hold accountable those who choose to prey on our communities.”