By Justin Boron
A wiry-framed and hesitant 18-year-old man accused of malice murder stood before the Clayton County magistrate judge Saturday morning, getting briefed on how the case police have built against him in the killing of Mundy's Mill High School student Larry Bishop Jr. will proceed.
Artavious Rashad Abercrombie's first appearance in court came on the same day the peer he allegedly shot and killed would have been walking across the stage at Tara Stadium for graduation.
Chief Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker told Abercrombie his bond hearing is set for June 10, one day after the preliminary hearing for the case that adds another chapter of consequences to the county's emerging problems with gangs and youth violence.
When the judge asked Abercrombie if he could afford to retain an attorney, the slender adolescent, who police say pulled the trigger of the assault rifle that killed Bishop, gave a timorous glance toward a group of six people in the courtroom identifying themselves as his family. The eldest woman in the group of family members spoke for the uncertain Abercrombie, telling the judge he could.
The family declined to speak further with reporters or identify themselves more specifically as they left the courtroom.
Abercrombie told police that Bishop fired at him first.
Police raided Abercrombie's home in College Park Friday and arrested him. Six other suspects also have been seized for lesser charges related to Bishop's killing, which police have said was a gang retaliation.
The arrests occurred a little more than a month after two consecutive killings of high school students shocked the community and rallied several extensive campaigns to allay juvenile violence.
Numerous elected officials and community leaders have formed task forces to combat the program.
Most recently, the county school system hosted two forums to inform parents and students about the nature of gangs.
Drawing on his law enforcement connections as the former Atlanta Police Department chief, County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell spearheaded a far-reaching task force with participants that included the FBI, the GBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The group is intended to be a multidimensional solution to gangs and violence, using educational, religious and law enforcement resources.
As part of the task force, the Clayton County Police Department said it has opened a gang hotline for anonymous tips and anyone with questions about gangs. The number is (678) 610-4747.