Gun found in Tennessee broke open case of children killed in alleged gang retaliation

The break that led to arrest of a dozen gang members for the murder of two innocent children came within a day of their slaying in October 2016.

Clayton County Police Capt. Stefan Schindler spoke exclusively with Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne on Friday about the killing of Tatiyana Coates, 11, and her brother, Daveon, 15.

Schindler said a gun ultimately led to charges against eight men allegedly involved in their gang-related murders.

“The biggest break was the day after the homicide that occurred in Clayton County. There was a gang related drive-by-shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During that shooting a weapon was dropped on the scene and that is what blew this case wide open,” Schindler said. “We were able to confirm that that weapon was actually used in that homicide.”

Schindler said the Chattanooga shooting ultimately provided a solid link to a national gang ring.

As it turned out, members of one gang were after a teen affiliated with another gang, who had stolen some guns and was staying at the Coates' home.


The teen was not there when gang members showed up. Schindler said the Coates children were killed just the same.

“They had no association in gang activity,” Schindler told Winne.

Over the next year and a half, investigators executed a slew of search warrants, including one where investigators found among several guns recovered there a handgun that ballistics experts later linked to the double murder of Samuel White and Sylvia Watson in DeKalb County.

DeKalb prosecutors have already obtained convictions against Vernon Beamon and Christopher Spencer. The two are also now charged with the Coates kids' killings.

Schindler said people with inside knowledge of the gang started talking.

“When the heat starts coming down, people will start talking.” Schindler told Winne.

The lead investigator on the case is working with federal, state and local authorities as far away as California in this case.

Winne tried contacting the attorneys for all the people involved in the case Friday. The only one who responded was the attorney for Michael De'Sean White, an elementary school teacher in DeKalb County, who was arrested earlier in the week.

White’s attorney told Winne that her client is innocent and denied he had any gang affiliation.