Officials ID victims of Atlanta’s recent deadly shootings

Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant said the city has enough police officers to investigate the recent surge in shootings, but said the department could use some help preventing crime.

Credit: Rebecca Wright

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Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant said the city has enough police officers to investigate the recent surge in shootings, but said the department could use some help preventing crime.

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Authorities on Tuesday identified five of the people shot to death across Atlanta since Friday evening as the city’s homicide count continues to rise amid a surge in gun violence.

At least six people were killed in separate shootings since Friday, and several others were injured, Atlanta police said. As of Tuesday, the department has investigated 52 homicides since the start of 2021, an increase of more than 50% from this time last year. The rash of shootings once again prompted the department to take to social media and urge residents to handle their disputes peacefully.

“One wrong choice and your life is forever changed,” police warned Monday after four people were killed across the city within a span of just four hours. “Think before you respond with a gun.”

Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant told Channel 2 Action News the city has more than enough officers to investigate the recent spate of homicides, but said the department could use some help when it comes to preventing the gun violence.

“One of the things we know that we cannot do is arrest our way out of this,” he told Channel 2. “What we do need is other resources to really intervene to help us before people start committing crimes.”

Part of that responsibility falls to parents, Bryant said, one day after his department charged a 15-year-old in a man’s fatal shooting.

“We can go on many of these kids’ Facebook pages and see that they’re hanging out at night, that they’re having weapons, that they have drugs,” Bryant said. “If we can see them, the parents should be able to take a look at it.”

The five shooting victims identified Tuesday included one woman and four men, according to the Fulton Medical Examiner’s Office. They ranged in age from 28 to 43.

Vernon E. Harper, 30, was found dead early Friday evening after officers responded to a double shooting in southwest Atlanta. Police arrived to a home in the 2100 block of Lang Street and discovered two victims, a man and a woman. Harper was pronounced dead at the scene and the woman was rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg, police said.

It’s still unclear what led to the shooting or if investigators have identified any suspects in the case.

Around 4 a.m. Saturday, a 16-year-old girl was found dead after a shooting at a home on Belvedere Avenue near Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta. The teen’s death was initially reported as a suicide, but Atlanta police said the case remains under investigation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is withholding the girl’s name until detectives determine an official manner of death.

The shootings continued through the weekend. Three men were shot in the parking lot of a Buckhead Home Depot on Saturday evening when gunfire erupted after a nearby pool party. And four others were struck Sunday morning when shots rang out outside a late-night, music-themed venue near Georgia Tech.

By Monday morning, four more people had been killed across the city.

Among those shot to death was 37-year-old Mayco Rodrique, who was struck about 1:30 a.m. while riding in a car on Ga. 400, authorities said. The deadly shooting was the seventh to occur on a metro Atlanta highway this year, according to police.

Officers were called to the Buford Highway Connector and Sidney Marcus Boulevard after receiving a call about the shooting and found Rodrique inside a car. Investigators believe he was traveling on Ga. 400 when someone in another vehicle fired shots. Rodrique was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, but died from his injuries.

Less than 90 minutes later, a woman was killed after being shot multiple times at an apartment complex on Magnolia Way, nearly 8 miles away in northwest Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood. She was identified Tuesday as 28-year-old Alicia Merrell.

The first officers to arrive performed first aid on the woman, but she died at the scene, according to Atlanta police spokesman Officer Steve Avery.

Monday’s third deadly shooting happened about 3:30 a.m. at the Metro Mart USA flea market in southwest Atlanta, authorities said. Police arrived to discover 29-year-old Alan R. Turner Jr. with several gunshot wounds. He was taken to the hospital, but died of his injuries.

It’s unclear what prompted the shooting, but homicide detectives later arrested a 15-year-old boy and charged him with Turner’s murder, Atlanta police said Monday evening.

Then at 4:20 a.m., a 43-year-old man was found shot to death in the bathroom of the Azule Restaurant and Lounge in the Lindbergh area of Buckhead. The victim was later identified as Keith L. Sharpe.

Detectives outside the Piedmont Road nightclub told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they’ve identified two “persons of interest” in the case, but police have not announced any arrests or said what led to Sharpe’s killing.

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