0

Two indicted in Riverdale teen's death

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Two men have been indicted in the fatal drive-by shooting of a Riverdale teenager nine months ago.

Jerome David Burgess, 20, of Riverdale, and Andre Rashad Weems, 20, of Jonesboro, were indicted June 3, in the death of Dana Varner, 16, of Riverdale.

A grand jury charged Burgess and Weems with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Both suspects were 19 at the time of the incident, which occurred Oct. 25, 2008, in front of a house on Caribou Trail in Riverdale.

Burgess, an alleged Murk Mob gang member with the alias "Oops," was the alleged driver of the 2005 blue Ford Expedition involved in the drive-by shooting, according to a warrant for his arrest. According to court records, a witness told police that Burgess stopped the vehicle near the house and turned the headlights off and on, "a couple of times," before driving down the street with the headlights off, and speeding toward the victim.

Clayton County Police Detective Michael Medious, who prepared the warrant application in the case, said Weems, also an alleged Murk Mob gang member with the alias "Hot Deezy," opened fire on Varner, who was standing on the curb at the time of the incident.

Burgess' mother, Terry Burgess, said her son was forced to speed toward the victim.

She said her son told her that earlier, he had stopped in a cul de sac, when Weems got out of the car and came back with a gun that he allegedly got from the car of friends who were following them while they searched for a party.

"When he turned around the guy [Weems] had an AK-47 in his lap. The guy [Weems] said 'just drive, I just want to scare him,'" she said.

"He said drive. I mean what are you gonna do if someone tells you to drive, and they have an AK-47 in their lap?" she said. "It's even in the police statements that other people gave, that he [Burgess] was flashing his lights for them to get out of the way. Some of them said they didn't know what it [flashing lights] meant."

However, Medious said in November that no one, including a passenger in the vehicle Burgess was allegedly driving, confirmed that Burgess was forced to drive in the direction of the victim.

Both suspects are being held in the Clayton County Jail. Bond for Burgess was set at $55,200, according to jail officials. No bond was set for Weems, jail officials said.