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School fight leads to felony charges

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Elaine Rackley

erackley@henryherald.com

Three people were arrested Monday for their alleged involvement in gang activity at a Henry County High School.

Carril Kevin Nestor, 17, and Cordarius Marquis Nelms, 17, both of Stockbridge, along with Joshua Dewayne Clark, 17, of McDonough, were charged with criminal street gang activity, and affray (fighting). Clark received an additional charge of battery.

Nestor, Nelms and Clark were represented by the Henry County Public Defender's Office during their preliminary hearing in Henry County Magistrate Court on Tuesday. Judge Robert Godwin heard their felony charges and bound their cases over to Superior Court. Godwin set a $1,500 bond for each of the teenagers.

Authorities described the trio as alleged members of a street gang known as the "Young Dangerous Gangsters." They are accused of being involved in the beating of a Dutchtown High School student in the school's restroom. The school is located at 149 Mitchell Road, in Hampton.

The incident took place on March 4, at 8:30 a.m., according to the arrest warrants in the case. Each suspect is charged in identical arrest warrants obtained by Henry County Sheriff's Deputy Walter Woolfork.

According to the arrest warrants:

"Defendant, [Cordarius], co-defendants Carril Nestor, and Joshua Clark, and others associated together as a criminal street gang known as Young Dangerous Gangsters and defendant and co-defendants participated in or encouraged each other to commit an act of criminal gang activity to wit: Affray in which defendant and co-defendants participated in a beat-in of [victim] in a restroom at Dutchtown High School, in which [victim] was repeatedly struck by the participants to the disturbance of the public tranquility."

According to the separate arrest warrant for battery for Clark, in connection with a March 3 incident:

"Defendant [Clark] intentionally caused substantial physical harm and visible bodily harm to [a different victim] by striking him in the face with his fist, causing a bloody lip."

Henry County Sheriff's Office field operation division commander, Maj. David Foster, said the incident on March 4, is still being probed.

"We are still investigating to determine if this was some type of gang initiation," said Foster. The fight began while two juvenile students were in the restroom with the three older students.

"One of them instructed a juvenile to beat up the other juvenile," explained the major. "So, as a result of that, we made the arrest. We arrested one juvenile, and three adult students at Dutchtown high school."

Nelms and Nestor had previous arrests under the gang act, said the major, who acknowledged that gang activity does exist in Henry County schools, and his office is taking a proactive approach to it.

"It's a concern that we are aware of, we have officers in the schools everyday to try to combat some of this, but we do not feel it is a major issue," said Foster. "We do know that it is a growing issue in the schools, and when we identify that, we try to talk with the students."