ATLANTA, GA – On Saturday, July 23rd, a 14-year-old boy selling water near the interstate in Midtown allegedly punched an Atlanta police officer in the face, breaking the cop’s eye socket and causing nerve damage that could lead to blindness.
A 14-year-old water boy allegedly hit an Atlanta police officer in the eye so hard it fractured the officer’s eye socket and caused suspected nerve damage, police said Tuesday. https://t.co/bWEv8LaQJn
— Atlanta Journal-Constitution (@ajc) July 26, 2022
The officer had ordered the teen, who was selling water near Interstate 75 in Midtown, to move away from the area. However, the teenage boy did not listen and when the officer approached him, the kid started to run.
Soon after that, the teen tossed liquid in the officer’s face and punched him in the right eye. The punch to the right eye fractured the eye socket and now doctors at Grady Memorial Hospital are worried about nerve damage.
According to the Atlanta Police Department (APD), the teen was arrested, but police have not released his name.
He has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, terroristic threats, obstruction, pedestrian in the roadway, pedestrian soliciting business, and littering.
Atlanta City Council member Michael Bond said that police are caught in the middle of a confusing City Hall policy. He said that the young teen boys selling water believe they are sanctioned to continue their activities, adding:
“The violence on the part of some of these boys continue.”
Bond also said:
“I can’t believe that this young individual had the temerity to do what he actually did to an Atlanta police officer.”
Almost got into an altercation with the very aggressive water boys on 10th Street ramp off I-75/85 south. Thought @APDTraffic @Atlanta_Police were curbing this. A scary scene when 1/2 dozen of them surround and walk into your car. @11AliveTraffic @11AliveNews #11alive pic.twitter.com/2HudvUMcFI
— Crash Clark (@CrashClark) July 14, 2022
He is calling on his colleagues to put a stop to the so-called “water boys.” According to a report from WSB, these violent incidents involving water boys have been happening since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A few days after the incident with the 14-year-old boy, WSB went back to the spot where the encounter began and it did not take long to find a group of teens selling water. Video shows teens selling bottled water to drivers as they exit Interstate 75 onto 10th Street.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has condemned the actions of the 14-year-old boy who has been accused of assaulting the police officer. As soon as Dickens took office, he and the ATD started working on solutions to help address this illegal activity.
The mayor’s summer youth employment program seems to be seeing a little success. The program connects at-risk youth with private businesses that are willing to hire teens from across the city.
As of Monday, July 25th, the city claims that nearly 3,500 kids have joined the program and more than 100 businesses are participating in the program. In response to the teen boys selling water bottles, Andrew Wanjohi said:
“They just have nothing to do and nowhere to go. All they’re doing is looking for money. That’s just a simple hustle that’s been taught to them.”
— Vlemx4u (@vlemx4u) July 26, 2022
In another violent incident involving young teens selling water bottles, a man driving home from church earlier in the month of July told FOX 5 that he saw a teen who was selling water firing shots in a busy Atlanta intersection. The man, Dorrington Poitier, said:
“As we were approaching, we were about three or four cars back. The light was red. All of a sudden, I hear gunshots, ‘pow pow pow.’ Looked over and this man had to be about 14 years old. He had a handgun in his hand and was walking towards my vehicle.”
The longtime Atlanta resident posted about the incident on social media and reached out to his city councilman because he believes more needs to be done. Atlanta District 12 Councilman Antonion Lewis said:
“I don’t want to see all of our kids with ankle monitors walking around because they are selling water because they want new shoes. When I see kids selling water, I take it as an issue to me and that we need to find something for them to do.”
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Police: Beloved Atlanta pastor raped, stabbed to death, burned by man she was moved to mentor (and who pretended to be a cop)
May 24th, 2022
ATLANTA, GA – A beloved Georgia pastor is dead and the man who police say is responsible for her grisly murder is in custody.
Police have arrested the 27-year-old man who they say stabbed the pastor to death in his home before putting her body in her van and setting it on fire on a desolate road.
Christopher Griggs, who has previously been charged with sexual assault and impersonating a police officer, was arrested May 19 and charged with one count of malice murder and one count of first-degree arson in the death of Rev. Marita Harrell, 57, in Dekalb County, Ga., according to court records.
Dekalb County Police say Harrell was fatally stabbed with a large kitchen knife at Griggs’ home May 18 while she mentored him as part of her work as a senior pastor at a local church. Police allege he then put her body in her van and drove it to a remote location, where he set it on fire.
Harrell’s husband and older daughter told WAGA that they first became worried about her whereabouts when she failed to return home the night she was with Griggs. The pair said they tracked her down by locating her phone.
Harrell’s daughter Marae recalled the moment she found her mother’s body. She said:
“I was there, and I still didn’t believe it. I was expecting her to wake up, open her eyes or move.”
Anthony Muhammad lives near the scene and said he heard a woman making loud noises in the area where the pastor’s van was found that night. He said he thought it was coyotes. Muhammad said:
“And not until I heard the voices saying, ‘Stop!’ That’s when I knew it was a person.”
He said about 10 minutes later, more than a dozen police cars and an ambulance arrived on the scene. He said police did not tell him the pastor’s body was in the van.
The pastor’s husband, Antonio Harrell, told the station he and his daughters expressed their concern over some of the individuals she helped mentor and specifically Griggs. He said:
“That was a point of contention between the two of us, between all of us, especially with this gentleman because he called two weeks ago. She told me, ‘Antonio, God has placed these people in my life, I cannot turn away from them.’ “
“She had an open, wonderful and accepting heart and she was always willing to learn about new people and she loved people.”
Harrell was a senior pastor at Connections @ Metropolitan church. She moved to Atlanta more than 30 years ago and was a member of Central United Methodist Church for more than 25 years before she accepted God’s call on her life, according to the church’s website.
Vincente Scott, a close family friend, said:
“At a spiritual level you’re asking ‘God, Why? What? Why her? She was doing your work.’ “
Scott met Harrell in 1992. She was a Sunday school teacher at the time, he said, and worked her way up within the United Methodist Church. He said faith was everything to Harrell and that it was in her nature to want to help people. He noted:
“If you knew her, she was offering advice, offering encouragement. The world has missed a great contributor to the civilizing process. If anything else, Marita was about improving individuals and improving society.”
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church issued the following statement:
“I am broken-hearted since being informed of the death of Rev. Marita Harrell. It is a blow to our clergy family, especially since it appears she died at the hand of one she was helping. Marita was a friend and a shining light among us. I pray for her family, her church, and all who loved her.
“I am grateful that the Lord she represented so well was with her in all things and accompanied her to her eternal home. May His Spirit comfort those of us who remain.”
Griggs is currently being held at Dekalb County Jail. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had retained an attorney or entered a plea. Also unknown at this time is the disposition of his earlier charges.
Police: Fugitive hid in Texas church, then fatally shot pastor and injured two others
January 4, 2021
WINONA, TX – A Texas pastor was fatally shot after he confronted a fugitive who had broken into the building to hide from the police the night before.
According to reports, the suspect, since identified as Mytrez Deunte Woolen, 21, was hiding in the church bathroom after a high-speed chase.
During a press conference, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said that the incident began at approximately 7:30 p.m. on January 2nd after Lindale police received several reports about someone brandishing a firearm through the sunroof of a dark-colored Volkswagen Jetta.
Soon after, a Smith County deputy saw the suspect’s vehicle at a convenience store and tried to stop it, but the car sped away. Deputies pursued for more than 20 miles, eventually being joined by troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Smith said that the car reached speeds of around 100 mph, but one of its tires was a spare and gave out during the chase, causing the Jetta to crash onto the property near the Starrville Methodists Church in Winona.
Here’s the scene of a #shooting in which the pastor of Starrville Methodist Church in #Winona was killed when he confronted a suspect who was hiding in the church’s bathroom following a car chase Saturday night. #Texas #TXNews #TexasNews pic.twitter.com/8S8zcBNln4
— Reagan Roy-Young (@reaganroy) January 3, 2021
A shotgun was found in the vehicle. A perimeter was established, with the assistance of K-9 units and drones for several hours. Deputies searched for the suspect in the woods and found part of a shot or booth he was believed to be wearing.
The very next morning, just before 9:30 a.m., Smith County dispatchers received call that there had been a shooting inside the church. Smith said in a statement:
“What we believe happened this morning is the suspect backtracked his way, after deputies left the area and came back and in order to get out of the cold and entered a broken window and entered the church.”
“He was still in the bathroom of the church when the door closed when the pastor or his wife, opened the door and met with him.”
Starrville Methodist Church Pastor Mark Allen McWilliams, 62, arrived at the church shortly before 9:30 a.m. on Sunday in order to prepare for the morning service. His wife, Rosemary and two other parishioners were also there to assist him.
This is the scene outside of Starrville Methodist church in Winona where the Smith county sheriffs office says a shooting took place. There are injuries but it’s unknown how many rn. Waiting to speak to the sheriff for more info @kytxcbs19 pic.twitter.com/NFfeRT4aBo
— Matt Lackritz (@MattLackritz) January 3, 2021
Smith told reporters:
“As the pastor opened the bathroom door, he was confronted by the individual who had been hiding in the church. Apparently, he fled in the woods and when everyone left, he retreated into the church.”
Woolen was holding the pastor’s red bank bag when the confrontation occurred. Smith said:
“The pastor, who had a firearm himself, apparently drew his firearm on the individual and ordered him to stop.”
Smith said that Woolen followed McWilliams’ commands to get onto the floor, but when the pastor momentarily became distracted by his wife, Woolen used it as an opportunity to grab the gun away from him. Smith said:
“Woolen came toward the front door then lunged at the pastor and disarmed him.”
— SecSolCon (@SecSolCon) January 4, 2021
Woolen shot at McWilliams, who died from his wounds at the scene. Smith said that the suspect then fired at Rosemary, but was not successful in hitting her. One of the parishioners was also armed, but was not able to utilize his weapon before Woolen shot at him.
The man was running away from the gunman when he was shot. The man is expected to recover from his wounds. Rosemary fell during the attack and was transported to a nearby hospital where she was treated for her injuries.
According to Smith, Woolen then stole a 2018 GMC pickup belonging to one of the victims and fled the scene. Investigators were able to use the vehicle’s OnStar technology to track and disable the stolen truck.
Woolen has been charged with aggravated assault while exhibiting a deadly weapon, aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, and first-degree capital murder. His bond has been set at over $3.5 million.
According to Smith, Woolen has been arrested multiple times since last year for probation violations, drug possession, and assault. He was also wanted for questioning in connection with two drive-by shootings.
Woolen has a court appearance scheduled for January 13th in Tarrant County, where he has a pending charge of assault against a family member by choking.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shared his condolences in a statement:
“Our hearts are with the victims and the families of those killed or injured in this terrible tragedy.”
“I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who apprehended the suspect and I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for those affected by this horrific shooting. The State of Texas is working closely with first responders and local officials to ensure that justice is served and that the Starrville community has the resources it needs during this time.”
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