Police search for gang suspects following gunfire at apartments

By Ed Brock

Bullets flew around the Highland Vista apartments this weekend, but nobody was injured.

Kim Armstrong, a 31-year-old resident of the complex on Arrowhead Boulevard, said that was mostly just good luck.

Around 7 p.m. Sunday gunfire, believed to be connected to a gang dispute, burst out in front of Armstrong's apartment.

“The shells were right here in front of my truck,” Armstrong said Tuesday as she was on her way to work.

Police came and painted circles around the spent shells.

“After they left, 10 minutes later, it started again,” said Armstrong, mother of a 10-year-old son. “It's kind of scary because if it was a Saturday night children would have been out there.”

It was surprising, said Armstrong.

“I've only been here since August, but it doesn't usually happen,” she said.

The shootings began near the basketball courts in the middle of the complex when four men got out of two cars, fired at a black Ford Mustang nearby, then carjacked another car from two men parked nearby and drove away. A bullet from that initial exchange went through the sliding glass doors of a nearby apartment and smashed into the wall.

On Tuesday the glass in the door had been replaced but a pile of glass shards and a hole in the door's aluminum frame marked the passage of the bullet.

The resident, Raphael Anthony, said he was turning on a lamp near the doors when three shots shattered the glass.

“I just hit the ground real quick,” said Anthony who is now considering moving.

The people in the black Mustang were gone before police arrived.

It was about an hour after that when the gunshots rang out near Armstrong's apartment. Witnesses told police that group of men came out of an apartment and got into three cars. Two of the cars drove away but somebody in the third car fired several shots at a building across the street from Armstrong. They didn't hit anybody.

And then one hour later shots were fired again by a different building, this time sending a bullet through the upstairs bedroom window of a woman's apartment but, again, nobody was hurt.

On Wednesday the Clayton County Police Department Gang Task Force was still looking for the culprits.

“They're out canvassing the area, doing some interviews,” said Assistant Police Chief Jeff Turner.

They've also stepped up patrols in the complex that had been relatively quiet, Turner said.

Though the shootings were the biggest case of gang violence in recent months, Turner said he is sure that police will be able to stop it from spreading.

“Once we determine what gangs were involved we'll talk to them, intervene,” Turner said. “We're not going to sit around and wait for the next incident to occur.”

On Saturday the county police department conducted a gang/curfew sweep around AMC Theatres on Mt. Zion Road, The Skate Zone on Mt. Zion Boulevard and various other high-crime areas that resulted in 33 arrests. Of those arrests 22 were charged with curfew violations only and others were charged with obstructing an officer, possession of illegal drugs, being a minor under the influence of alcohol, theft and speeding.

The sweeps will continue through December while school is out, Turner said.