Clayton authorities are hoping a gun recovered in Tennessee could lead to the killer of two Clayton siblings shot to death during a home invasion four months ago.
Clayton Police Chief Michael Register told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is testing the gun to see if it was used during the home-invasion shooting of 15-year-old Daveon Coates and his sister Tatiana, 11.
Register declined to say what type of gun was recovered but said it was retrieved the day after the Coates siblings were killed. It was found after a shootout in Tennessee involving gang members suspected of killing the brother and sister. Gang members, bent on retaliation, drove to Clayton looking for another 15-year-old who was not there at the time of the shootings. That 15-year-old is in protective custody.
“We’re attempting to link that firearm up there to the murders here,” Register said. ” We don’t know if they will be able to but if they can that will be a huge break in the case. We just learned last week that the gun is still being tested for links to the scene.”
Register said the GBI has a “huge backlog” of cases but has assured him it will make this case a priority. Efforts to reach a GBI spokesman were unsuccessful Thursday morning.
The Coates killings is part of spree of homicides involving young people in Clayton between the ages of 11 and 19. Nine have died from gun violence since October.
Clayton police also are closing in on a suspect in another homicide of a Cherish Williams, a Mundy’s Mill High School senior. Williams was sitting with friends in a car at Independence Park in Jonesboro listening to music when she was shot by gunmen in an attempted robbery on New Year’s Eve.
“We’re just trying to finalize that case and hopefully bring charges in the near future on that person,” Register said.
In response to the increased numbers of homicides, Register said he has beefed up his Criminal Investigation Division with more senior officers. During his time as chief, he also has created a homicide unit.
“I think that’s helped,” Register said. “Investigations is a critical part of the process. I want to get the best supervisors and officers down there.”
Register said the gun is “a hopeful break in the case. We’re hopeful there’s going to be some linking to the crime and we can take it from there.”
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