Torpy at Large: Bullets with no name on them, the perils of Atlanta life

A shooting at Elleven45 Lounge left two dead and at least four injured.

Credit: David Aaro/AJC

Credit: David Aaro/AJC

A shooting at Elleven45 Lounge left two dead and at least four injured.

You have to wonder about the sociopathic vapidity of someone who’d fire a gun at a person in a crowded nightclub, a space filled with what one might call “noncombatants.” Or innocent bystanders simply living their lives.

That was the case early May 12 at the Elleven45 Lounge in Buckhead when someone opened fire. Six young people were hit and two of them died — Nakyris M. Ridley, 20, and Mari Creighton, 21.

Ridley, who police say was the intended victim, was in the news two years ago when he was arrested after a high-speed chase and charged with carjacking. He was 18 at the time and had been in and out of jail on charges of alleged carjackings and gun offenses. Somehow, he was free to be out partying the night of the shooting. But almost nothing is surprising when it comes to Fulton County’s justice system.

Creighton was a rising college senior focused on earning a biology degree and was a standout volleyball player at Albany State University. She had been doing everything right, and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when shots rang out in the club. Such are the terrible vagaries of life.

One family member told WSB-TV that the killing was senseless. Another said, “I just wish people would stop shooting.”

One might also wonder about the craven mindset of someone who opens fire with a semi-automatic rifle near a video shoot. On Tuesday, a couple of guys got into a beef outside the shoot on Atlanta’s west side and let go with perhaps 30 shots. Atlanta rapper Lil Baby was in the area but not involved in the incident, his rep said.

Albany State University student Mari Creighton, 21, was among two people killed in a shooting early Sunday at a Buckhead nightclub, police said. May 13, 2024.

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Audio from the scene indicates the bullets were rapid fire. Three men were wounded.

“The presence of guns present in a moment of anger has vexed this city,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum told City Council members last week. He was referring to the nightclub killing. The video shoot shoot-’em-up had not yet occurred.

He noted crime in the city is down — a bit — from the same period last year, but there is a weird twist to this year’s crime: More domestic violence. Last year by early May, there were two homicides considered domestic. So far this year, it’s 12.

Crime is often not random with bullets flying wildly. Sometimes it’s very intentional and even in-house, making the hard job of policing even harder.

“We cannot be in living rooms or inside homes to keep the peace,” said the chief, who really didn’t have an explanation for this disturbing increase.

In the days since Schierbaum spoke, at least three more people have been killed in Atlanta homicides, including a 22-year-old woman who was in a car fired upon by three men. A toddler was in the vehicle but was unharmed.

Atlanta police investigate the crime scene located at the Collier Drive and Harwell Road intersection in the Collier Heights neighborhood in Atlanta on Thursday morning, May 16, 2024. Police are trying to identify a woman who was found shot to death there. The woman had been shot at least three times. Officials have not released any information about suspects.(John Spink/AJC)

Credit: John Spink

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Credit: John Spink

Retired Atlanta gang crimes detective Tyrone Dennis, who now runs an outreach program called Clippers and Cops, told me it’s not especially surprising when a person fires randomly and wildly at a target.

“The guy (in the nightclub shooting) didn’t care who else he hit,” Dennis said. “Some people don’t care about their own life. Why should they care about yours?”

He said one person can make all the right decisions in life, while another could care less about right and wrong. “Our lives cross, and it can turn your life upside down,” he said.

Guns are cheap and relatively easy to obtain, which feeds the mayhem, he said. Someone breaking into dozens of cars in a parking lot is playing a numbers game, he said, adding, “It’s all gain, there’s no overhead.”

About 2,000 guns disappear from vehicles in Atlanta each year, twice that from a few years ago.

The thief will usually resell the stolen guns but sometimes will keep them, bringing about his own violent escalation. “Now he can become a robber,” Dennis said. “And if someone doesn’t follow his instructions, they shoot them.”

Then that person might have become a killer.

Dennis said his car was broken into during a recent Atlanta visit. No guns were inside, he added.

Tyrone Dennis leads a discussion with community members at Pro Cuts ATL, a barber shop off Martin Luther King in Atlanta. The Investigator with the Atlanta Police Department is trying to build better relations between cops and the community with informal gatherings called "Clippers & Cops," when there is no cause for confrontation.  (Photo by Phil Skinner)

Credit: Phil Skinner

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Credit: Phil Skinner

Tekesia Shields, the founder of Mothers Against Gang Violence, told me Thursday about two funerals that were occurring the next day.

One was for Rodney Thompson, 16, who was shot inside his grandmother’s home, where he lived.

The other was for Douglas Banks, 37, who was shot to death days later outside the Cleveland Avenue Library. No arrests have been made.

Shields has herself been wounded, emotionally, that is, by the streets. One of her four sons is locked up on a robbery conviction. Her organization’s mission is to help families and young people navigate a troubling environment.

“I don’t think a lot of (young people in trouble) think about the consequences,” she told me. “You can make a one-minute decision that affects a lifetime.”

But it’s not all bleak, she wanted to add.

“We have so many kids in the community who are graduating,” she said. “They just happen to live in the same community where these things are happening.”

Kind of like the college student who happened to be at the wrong place for a moment and will miss tomorrow.