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Two arrested in drive-by killing

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Two, 19-year-old, alleged members of the Murk Mob street gang have been arrested and charged with the drive-by murder of Dana Varner.

Varner, 16, was shot in the side with a bullet from an assault rifle, as an SUV sped past him Sunday, Oct. 26. The boy was standing on a lawn outside Riverdale, talking to a girl, when the shooting started and everyone ran, but a bullet caught him and killed him, according to Clayton County police.

Varner suffered "massive internal injuries," according to Detective Michael Medious. He died with his eyes open, lying next to the residential road.

Five days later, Medious made an arrest, bringing in 19-year-old Jerome David Burgess, a Riverdale resident, who's also known as "Oops."

According to the arrest warrant filed at the Clayton County courthouse, there were three people in the car who identified Burgess as the driver. Two reportedly got out right before the shooting, and one was actually in the back seat, according to the warrant.

On Saturday, after interviewing Burgess at police headquarters, Medious took out a warrant for Andre Rashad Weems, a 19-year-old Jonesboro man, who allegedly fired an AK-47 into a crowd of teenagers, killing Varner.

Both men have minor criminal records -- arrests for small amounts of marijuana and trespassing -- and connections to the Murk Mob gang.

Medious' warrant doesn't cite any motive for the murder, other than the definition of the charge of malice murder. Weems, also known as "Hot Deezy," according to detective, showed he has "an abandoned and malignant heart."

Also according to the detective's information, Weems and Burgess were driving around Sunday night, looking for a party. There were three or four other people in the car, who told police "no one seemed to know where it [the party] was."

Two of the passengers gave up at about 11 p.m., and got dropped off on a cul de sac. Burgess was allegedly driving and Weems got in the passenger's seat, carrying a gun.

They drove some, according to witness reports, until they saw a boy and a girl standing on the curb on Caribou Lane, talking. Weems allegedly said they had to turn around. Burgess allegedly turned the SUV around, flicked the lights on and off, and "kind of sped forward and slowed down in the area where the victim was standing and the front seat passenger opened fire with an AK-47," according to the warrant.

Both the 19-year-old's are charged with murder.

Burgess was arrested at his home Friday night. He reportedly told police he was driving the SUV during the drive-by shooting, but only under duress.

"Initially, he refused to drive until the offender pointed a gun at him and told him to drive," Medious reported.

Weems was arrested Monday evening. The police department's Special Operations Unit picked him up in Riverdale and took him to police headquarters for an interview.

Both men face a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.