Atlanta arrests “Blood” gang members in murder case as public discussion returns to crime

By David Pendered

Crime is again coming to the forefront of conversation in Atlanta and Fulton County.

Atlanta police officers are briefed before they canvas for clues in four killings committed east of the intersection of I-285 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Credit: David Pendered

Atlanta police officers are briefed before they canvas for clues in four killings committed east of the intersection of I-285 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Credit: David Pendered

Four members of the 9 Trey Gangster organization have been arrested by Atlanta police in connection with one homicide in southwest Atlanta, police said Wednesday. The gang is affiliated with the United Blood Nation, as in the “Crips and Bloods” of the 1980s, according to the FBI.

Fulton County commission Chairman John Eaves is slated to speak Thursday evening at a program titled, “Neighborhood Gangs and Protecting Our Youth.” This follows the “Crime and Safety Summit” Eaves convened in March.

Crime is always an emotional issue – even when the crime rate is declining, as the police crime data say it is in the city of Atlanta.

The data show Atlanta’s crime rate has declined by 27 percent in the eight major crimes that are tracked by U.S. law enforcement agencies. That drop is in the year-to-date period ending April 12, 2014 compared to the same year-to-date period in 2009.

Atlanta homicide Capt. Paul Guerrucci said one reason the rate of violent crime in Atlanta is declining is because of programs such as the neighborhood canvas that police conducted late Wednesday afternoon in search of clues in four homicides.

“Violent crime keeps going down, down, down, which shows our endeavors are going in the right direction,” Guerrucci said.

As Guerrucci spoke quietly, about 50 officers left the Adamsville Recreation Center to look for leads in four unrelated homicides that have been committed between January and March. Arrests have been made in two cases, and Guerrucci said the other investigations are progressing well.

One officer said the four 9 Trey gang members were involved in a Jan. 26 home invasion and that witnesses are needed to make the case stronger.

Atlanta police invited the media to report on the search for witnesses to four killings in southwest Atlanta. Police hope the news stories will prompt witnesses to come forward. Credit: David Pendered

Atlanta police invited the media to report on the search for witnesses to four killings in southwest Atlanta. Police hope the news stories will prompt witnesses to come forward. Credit: David Pendered

The hope of finding witnesses who are willing to talk is a primary reason police conducted the Homicide Tactical Canvas. Police recognize that some folks are afraid to talk, Guerrucci said. For that reason, officers handed out business cards saying tips can be made anonymously. Rewards can reach $2,000.

The killings the team hopes to solve are described as such in police incident reports:

  1. “Jan. 26. Male shot and killed at location. Willful killing – gun. … Officers responded to a fight call with a firearm. The victim … was shot and killed inside the apartment.”
  2. “March 10. Murder and aggravated assault. Willful killing – non-family – gun. The victim … was shot multiple times and transported to Grady Memorial Hospital. While Zone 1 was finishing their investigation of that call, the body of … was discovered behind building D. … Multiple gun shots to the neck and torso.”
  3. “March 22. Victim shot and killed in roadway. Willful killing – gun. Officers … found the victim … deceased from multiple gunshot wounds in the westbound lanes of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. … Multiple 7.62×39 mm cartridge cases were recovered on the north shoulder of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive … Defects consistent with gunfire were found in multiple apartment … on the southside of the roadway.”
  4. “March 26. Murder/Felony Murder. Willful killing – gun. Zone 1 units were dispatched … on a robbery in progress with gunshots heard. When units arrived, they found a white male lying on the ground near the south end of the No. 10 building … with an apparent gunshot wound to his upper left chest. … The victim arrived to this location prior to being shot in his vehicle which was missing from the crime scene and taken by the suspect(s) who shot him during an apparent armed robbery attempt.”

Incidentally, the eight major crimes and the change recorded for the years 2014 and 2009 in the year-to-date figures for Atlanta include:

  • Murder – down 14 percent;
  • Rape – up 34 percent;
  • Robbery – down 17 percent;
  • Aggravated assault – down 24 percent;
  • Burglary – down 40 percent;
  • Larceny, from vehicle – down 25 percent;
  • Larceny, from auto – down 19 percent;
  • Auto theft – down 32 percent.

The total number of major crimes cited in the report is 7,581 in year-to-date 2014. The figure was 10,452 in year-to-date 2009.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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