EAST ATLANTA — Two men were shot Saturday — one fatally — in what police said was a robbery gone bad, just a few feet away from the bustling Village bar district.
The shooting victims, along with a third person, were walking down May Avenue, just off Flat Shoals Avenue at about 11 p.m. when a gunman accosted them and robbed them, Atlanta Police Department Major Darryl K. Tolleson said.
For some unknown reason, the gunman shot two of the men, striking one in the abdomen and the other in the leg. (Police did not release the victims' names.)
The gunman then jumped into the passenger side of a waiting car and sped away.
It is believed that one of the victims is an East Atlanta resident, Tolleson said, adding police were canvassing the city for the suspect vehicle.
He expressed concern over the string of non-functioning street lights on May Avenue, which plunged a portion of the road in darkness, save the porch lights coming from homes along the street.
In fact, he said the department would make a point of contacting Georgia Power Co. about the lights which have been non-functioning for weeks.
Visitors patronizing Village bars and restaurants often park along May Avenue, making them potential targets at night because it's so dark.
The shooting occurred amid a string of armed robbberies reported to the Atlanta Police Department on the same night, including:
- Two separate incidents in Reynoldstown
- The hold up of a pizzeria in Woodland Hills
- The carjacking of a man in the Memorial Drive BP filling station in Capitol Gateway.
In a separate incident, DeKalb County police reported a 12:30 a.m. armed robbery in the 1800 block of Glenwood Avenue, just east of the I-20 interchange in the Parkview community, the East Atlanta Security Patrol said.
Police are investigating to see if this spate of gun robberies, along with a number of others this month, are connected.
East Atlanta residents already were on edge following last Saturday's shooting death of 27-year-old in the 1200 block of Metropolitan Avenue SE.
The shooter in that crime remains at large and it believed the victim was targeted. The police don't believe the two incidents are connected.
In the wake of the shootings, Atlanta police promise more stepped patrols of the Village at night. The East Atlanta Security Patrol said it would fund additional off-duty patrols as well and leaders of the East Atlanta Community Association said it, too, will follow-up on the non-working street lights.
Ed Gilgor, chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit-W, told East Atlanta Patch more police on the streets are needed and outlined the neighborhood's response in a statement from the East Atlanta Community Association:
"We find the shooting deplorable and our prayers and thoughts are with the victims and their families. We see this type of violence on a city-wide level and we want it to stop. The APD has too few officers to properly protect the citizens of Atlanta and we want to see action from the Mayor and Council to fund additional officers. We have spoken with Major [Keith] Meadows who has been as forthcoming as possible with information. The APD will begin "blue-lighting" the East Atlanta business district's surrounding streets tonight at around 10 pm by having a patrol car driving with its blue lights on so as to increase police visibility. Chief Turner has authorized overtime in order to make the officers available for foot patrol in and around the Village. We are also investigating improvements in lighting to the surrounding streets to the village as well."
The shootings come amid a string of bold, brazen armed robberies — including a shooting in Grant Park — that have hit Southeast Atlanta communities in the last week alone:
- May 17: Saman Balkhanian was walking home from an Atlanta Braves game and shot in the head in Grant Park by two assailants who robbed him. The 22-year-old lost an eye in the incident.
- May 18: Henry Omar Reeves, 27 was shot dead in the 1200 block of Metropolitan Avenue SE. in East Atlanta.
- May 19: Two armed gunmen robbed a man at 12:33 a.m. as he was walking in the 600 block of Stokeswood Avenue in East Atlanta.
- May 19: A couple was robbed gunpoint at about 11 p.m. as they were walked down Hamilton Street near Garrett Street in Glenwood Park.
- May 20: A man walking down Hamilton Avenue SE near Benteen Avenue SE in Boulevard Heights. The victim's iPad was snatched from his hands as he walked down the street and after a brief struggle for the device, his assailant jumped into a waiting car and fled.
Earlier in the month, on May 7 in East Atlanta, a man was walking in the 1600 block of Flat Shoals Road at about 11 p.m. when two men approached — one armed with a revolver and the other with a semi-automatic handgun — and robbed him of his iPhone and wallet.
In addition to the violent robberies, on May 16, police issued a warning to Honda Element owners in East Atlanta, Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Reynoldstown and other Southeast Atlanta communities following a wave of catalytic converter thefts from that model of vehicles.