David Mack’s loved ones frustrated with Atlanta cops on 1-year anniversary of his death

One year after 12-year-old David Mack was shot dead in the woods near his southwest Atlanta home, the same question is repeatedly asked in one form or another: How could no one have information about this case?

Members of the boy’s family gathered Wednesday, exactly a year after the seventh grader was killed, to beg for help from the community and plead with authorities to keep their promises.

“It’s a year later and we’re asking (Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant) and the city officials: What are you doing to see that this case is resolved?” Radiah Allen, Mack’s aunt, said during Wednesday’s news conference. “We’re asking you to be accountable for the inequalities that plague your police force in the handling of cases that concern Black bodies.”

Mack’s case was one of 158 homicides investigated by the Atlanta Police Department in 2021. Of those cases, 144 victims were Black. APD records show that the department cleared 51% of all homicide cases last year, and its clearance rate for cases involving Black victims was slightly higher at 52% — the highest clearance rate for any racial demographic.

Ayanna Riley, another of Mack’s aunts, said the family was desperate for more help from the community, especially the neighborhoods surrounding the John A. White Golf Course where the boy’s body was found.

“What we’re asking is for the community to come forward,” Riley said. “Someone saw this. Somebody heard it. And we’re just asking that you come forward. The least little bit of information could help.”

Atlanta police officials echoed that sentiment.

“We are puzzled that we haven’t received any significant information from the public,” a department spokeswoman said in a phone call with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. “We need the public’s help to bring David Mack’s killer to justice.”

Police have offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Explore‘Somebody knows something’: Atlanta police canvass neighborhood where 12-year-old was killed

According to Mack’s family members, their frustration with Atlanta police began the night they called to report the boy missing. His uncle, Wesley Allen, said the officer who searched the area was not thorough and would have seen the boy’s body if he had checked the creek bed. The concrete-lined ravine is easily accessible from the golf course and is not difficult to walk along. Wesley Allen said he and his friends caught crawfish in the same creek when they were growing up.

“We went out to look for David in an area where the Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 4 had already told us they had searched, the place his phone last pinged,” Riley said. “We found his bullet-riddled body. There is no amount of therapy that can heal us, that can remove the trauma that we face.”

Since then, the family said they have received few updates on the case. They did not know if investigators had performed forensics on Mack’s phone or obtained video footage from either municipal cameras or local residents.

Radiah Allen said that two young men were spotted running in opposite directions on Shirley Street, a short street that backs up to the golf course and forms a loop off Beecher Road, shortly after gunshots were heard that evening. A year removed from the shooting, multiple homes along the street appear to have doorbell cameras, but it’s not clear if any were active at the time. The family did not know if the lead was being investigated.

Atlanta police said there were no new updates in the case in an email to the AJC. The day after the family’s news conference, a spokeswoman said many of their questions could not be answered because the investigation remains open and active.

Allen also called out the neighborhood’s city councilmember, Marci Overstreet, for promises unkept. At the time of Mack’s death, the security cameras installed around the park and golf course were not working. Allen said that a year ago Overstreet promised to have the cameras fixed.

“Those cameras are still not up and working,” Allen said.

In an email to the AJC, Overstreet deferred the question of the cameras to police.

“We continue to hold the family of David Mack in our hearts and our prayers,” Overstreet said, adding that her office had been in contact with the family over the past year.

According to Allen, the family has not felt the same way. Though Overstreet gave them her phone number last February, Allen said their calls go unreturned.

Riley said the family’s most recent contact with Atlanta police was “a few weeks ago,” but the conversation was not encouraging.

“I feel like I got brushed off,” Riley said.

She said the detective explained the towering caseload faced by Atlanta police, a factor that Riley said she’s tried to keep in perspective.

“I get it. Our case is not the only case,” Riley said. “I watch the news just like everybody else does. But it’s been a year. Can we get some kind of information?”

When told that police said they had been in the neighborhood but residents were not willing to speak with investigators, Riley questioned the specifics of their claims.

“I want to know when they were in the neighborhood besides when they had us come out here in February of last year,” Riley said.

“But we came out here first,” Glenda Mack, David’s grandmother, said. “We didn’t wait on them.”

“We had already done two canvasses prior to that,” Riley added. “And that was the only time I’ve seen police out here.”

Atlanta police plan to meet with the family soon, a spokesman confirmed. Homicide Commander Lt. Ralph Woolfolk agreed to sit down with the family as early as Monday.

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For more information, visit http://opendata.atlantapd.org/

Credit: Mandi Albright

For more information, visit http://opendata.atlantapd.org/

Credit: Mandi Albright

Combined ShapeCaption
For more information, visit http://opendata.atlantapd.org/

Credit: Mandi Albright

Credit: Mandi Albright

Despite their frustration with the investigation, Mack’s family members have come to the same conclusion as the police: The case will only be solved with the help of the community.

“No tip is too small,” the police spokeswoman said. “We want to clear this case by arrest.”

“I hope the community comes and helps us,” Glenda Mack said from the park where her grandson’s body was found. “I know what it means to be scared. Sometimes, you’ve just got to go out on faith and know that you’re doing the right thing. Know that you are truly doing the right thing by telling something that you thought was not important, or not going to make any difference. You don’t know what could make a difference.”

ExploreReward increased to $10K in search for 12-year-old’s killer

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers Atlanta by calling 404-577-8477 or online at www.StopCrimeAtl.org. Tipsters do not have to give their name or any identifying information to be eligible for the reward.