ITT Tech student charged with killing Spelman student

An ITT Technical Institute student is in jail, charged with killing a Spelman College student while she was walking with friends.

Jasmine Lynn, 19, was struck by a stray bullet Sept. 3 as she was walking on James P. Brawley Drive at Clark Atlanta University.

Devonni Manuel Benton, 21, was arrested around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at ITT Technical Institute. He is being held in the Fulton County jail on one count of murder and one count of aggravated assault, Atlanta Police Lt. Keith Meadows said.

“It makes me so angry that he was going to his classes just like nothing had happened. My baby can’t go to her classes and he was going on with his life,” Lynn’s grandmother, Carolyn Williams said Tuesday after learning about the arrest.

Benton and his friends were walking near the campus when they got into a fight with a group of Clark Atlanta students, Meadows said.

"He retreated down the street and started firing. We believe he was intending to scare someone," said Meadows, who supervises the homicide division. "We have no reason to believe Ms. Lynn was an intended target."

Benton fired six shots, Meadows said. One struck Lynn in the chest. Another hit 18-year-old Clark Atlanta student Jerome Jones in the wrist.

A friend walking with Lynn heard the gunshots and told her to get down, police said.

Investigators had information from the beginning that Benton was involved, but they needed to get more details before making the arrest, Meadows said.

"It’s one thing to know, but you really want to prove that," he said. "We were building a circumstantial case up until we could get those witnesses."

Investigators interviewed more than 60 witnesses before making the arrest Tuesday, Meadows said.

Police said they are still investigating the shooting and checking to see if Benton has any prior arrests or gang affiliations. But they do not anticipate any additional charges.

"This will be the single arrest for that occurrence," Deputy Chief Carlos Banda said.

Meadows said he doubts anyone will get a reward in the case, including $5,000 that Atlanta City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow contributed from her city funds on Monday.

"The one call we needed to identify the perpetrator didn’t come," Meadows said.

Winslow said she was just pleased that some community members, including students, came forward to help with the investigation.

"Sometimes we have to put money forward," said Winslow, a Clark Atlanta graduate. "That’s unfortunate. But sometimes that does help smoke someone out."

Police are now working with campus officers to host workshops on how students can be more aware of their surroundings and protect themselves against crime, Winslow said.

"It’s a bittersweet day, but it’s a good day because there is somebody behind bars who police believe did this dastardly deed," Winslow said.

"I'm relieved that students are now more aware of things."

Police said there have been other violent crimes near the colleges, but this is the first serious incident on campus.

"It does appear this was an isolated incident," Meadows said.

Lynn, of Kansas City, Mo., was a sophomore and studying psychology.

Benton graduated from Banneker High School in College Park in 2007, and was studying computer network systems at ITT Tech, school officials said. He has no affiliation with Clark Atlanta, police said.

Benton is scheduled to appear in Fulton County court at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Williams, Lynn's grandmother, said her family was waiting to see Benton’s picture.

“I’m just happy that I can put a face to the person that did this,” Williams said from her Kansas City, Mo. home. “It’s like this whole big brick has been lifted off my mind.”

The university issued a statement, encouraging the district attorney's office to vigorously pursue the case and thanking the police.

“The death of Jasmine Lynn will always be a sad and tragic loss for the Spelman College community, and we are glad to know that there has been arrest,” Spelman’s vice president for student affairs Sherry Turner said in a statement. “In addition, we are grateful to all the Atlanta University Center schools who have worked together with the Atlanta Police Department on this investigation."