By Ed Brock
A Lovejoy man has been arrested in connection with two shootings using a semi-automatic rifle, one involving police officers.
Alex Rackthai, 27, of Hampton has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a peace officer, obstruction of an officer and being a felon in possession of a gun in connection with the shootings, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said.
The first shooting occurred around 11:20 p.m. Thursday at Providence Place Apartments on Mt. Zion Road outside Morrow. The victim, 19-year-old Shareef Parks of Stockbridge, said he was standing in the parking lot when some men in a black soft-top Jeep came by.
A passenger in the Jeep got out and fired at Parks with a rifle, hitting him three times in the legs. The suspects drove off and Parks was able to walk to a residence on Tara Boulevard where he called for help.
Two officers who were responding to the call sighted the Jeep on Mt. Zion Boulevard and pulled it over near Personal Place and Fred Drive. Once the vehicle stopped a man with a rifle came out and began running away toward a nearby Aaron's Rent-a-Center, according to a police report. The man stopped, pointed the gun at the officers and appeared to be trying to fire it so they took cover. He ran again with the officers in pursuit, stopped and again pointed the gun at the officers, this time firing two rounds.
The officers dropped to the ground and lost track of where the man went, but a truck driver who was parked nearby told them that the man had run into a wooded area.
The Clayton County SWAT and canine units were called out but did not locate the suspect. They did find the gun, an AK-47 style assault rifle, near a dirt embankment.
On Friday Rackthai called police to report that his gun, which he said his brother had bought on Wednesday, had been stolen from his trailer in La Costa mobile home park. The gun was the same one used in the shootings, Turner said, and when investigators did not find any sign of forced entry at Rackthai's home they arrested him.
The gun had been purchased at Arrowhead Pawn Shop on Tara Boulevard, Turner said.
A manager at the store who asked that her name not be used said the gun was a CAI WASR 10, listed on several Web sites as being made in Romania. The manager said it was a hunting rifle and was never included in the federal assault rifle ban that Congress allowed to expire in September.
"You could buy them any time," the manager said.
A background check is needed to buy the rifle and the manager said that the buyer of the gun had passed the background check.
Rackthai had a prior felony conviction for carrying a concealed, leaving the scene of an accident and fleeing from police, Turner said. That conviction stemmed from a April 2002 incident.
Another man, 23-year-old Phetoubon Souvanhwasao of Riverdale, was also arrested in connection with the incident. Turner said Souvanhwasao was driving the black Jeep and after the gunman ran from the Jeep with the police in pursuit he drove away and was later arrested for DUI by Riverdale police.
A backseat passenger in the Jeep was not with Souvanhwasao at the time of his arrest and is still at large.