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Dead, alleged drug dealer was 15 years old

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The alleged drug dealer shot to death by police in front of a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant on Monday has been identified as a 15-year-old boy.

Francisco Diaz Perez was killed by Clayton County Police Department narcotics officers during a set-up drug buy.

He was allegedly distributing methamphetamine out of a BMW in the Upper Riverdale Road parking lot of the pizza place that caters to children, when police attempted to arrest him, and he allegedly tried to drive away.

It was Perez's 15th birthday, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The GBI released the teen's identity on Friday, at the request of the Clayton News Daily.

Police did not initially know Perez's identity. When they attempted to arrest him, they only knew a nickname given to them by a confidential informant, who had been arrested and "flipped" that morning. The confidential informant estimated Perez's age at 22, according to Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner.

Perez didn't look or act like a teen, Turner said. When he was killed, there was $3,000 of "crystal meth" in the car he was driving, and he weighed 203 pounds.

"He didn't look like he was 15 and, according to the agents, when he came into the shopping center, his driving ability wasn't that of a 15-year-old," the police chief said.

Perez was driving a BMW 525, when he was killed. He didn't have a driver's license in his pockets, according to police, and there was initially some confusion about the car registration. On Friday, GBI Spokesman John Bankhead said Perez didn't have an ID because he couldn't legally drive, yet. The car was purchased by his father.

Perez was identified when his parents came forward and filed a missing persons report, according to Turner. They said it was "not unusual for him" to disappear for several days, but they were worried that he might be dead.

The police chief said the Perez family is in the country illegally, and lived in one of the mobile home parks on Tara Boulevard. Police had not had any prior contact with Perez, but his brother, they said, is listed in their computers as an affiliate of the Forest Park Locos gang.

"Our hearts go out to the family," Turner said Friday. "It's unfortunate when anyone dies, and especially one so young. But bottom line, this does not change the facts of this case.

"This suspect still showed up to sell two ounces of crystal meth. He still rammed into police cars. He still attacked police officers. Those are the facts of the case," Turner said, "and that's something that doesn't change because of the age. A 15-year-old can still kill you just as quick, if not, in some cases, quicker than a 35-year-old."

The three officers involved in the shooting are currently on paid, administrative leave, pending the department's internal investigation and a psychological review.

The shooting is also being investigated by the GBI, which is standard policy in Clayton County. When the GBI investigation is completed, the case will be turned over to the Clayton County District Attorney's office.