Residents might think there’s something in the water, but Sandy Springs hasn’t had more shootings than usual, police say.
Sandy Springs police started the year strong, without a single homicide until the July 25 shooting death of 23-year-old Takeenen Williams. Patricko Davis was arrested in Bakersfield, Calif., and charged in the incident, which Chief Ken DeSimone said was drug-related.
Five shootings in Sandy Springs followed over the next two months, of which the Aug. 4 homicide at Taboo 2 Bar & Bistro is the only one in which police have not yet made an arrest.
“We have identified a suspect in mind, and we are working with the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force to bring the person of interest in,” DeSimone said.
On Aug. 13, a murder-suicide was reported, where police said Dan Wilkins, 65, shot and killed his wife, Sharon Wilkins, 55, at his mother-in-law’s home on the 7000 block of Chaparral Drive. Wilkins killed himself as police arrived on the scene, police said.
“Almost exclusively, our murders in Sandy Springs are domestic or drug-related,” DeSimone said. “One [of the 2014 shootings] was a robbery, where a 16-year-old was charged with killing a man over a PlayStation.”
That 16-year-old, Kayla Dixon, will be charged as an adult, according to court records, along with co-defendant Nathaniel Vivian, 20, also charged in the shooting.
The Sept. 12 homicide of Daniel John Zeitz, 28, of Roswell, took place when Zeitz went to the parking lot of an apartment on Treelodge Parkway to meet a potential buyer for his PS4 gaming system, which he had listed on Craigslist, Sgt. Ronald Momon said.
A homicide where police have not yet determined a motive occurred on Sept. 14, when 27-year-old Eulailo “Freddie” Vega and 23-year-old Byron Caceres were shot and killed at the One Sovereign Place apartment complex. Zusi Aguirre, 25, of Mableton was arrested about a week later, during a traffic stop in Mobile, Ala.
The most recent in the spree of Sandy Springs shootings took place in the Target parking lot at The Prado on Sept. 21. Mario Ross, 27, was shot in the back and in the arm. Police arrested a passenger who was in Ross’s car, 28-year-old Larry J. Walls, of Milwaukee, and charged him with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Capt. Steve Rose said Ross and Walls were part of a drug deal, which was taking place in the parking lot, and DeSimone confirmed two more suspects are being sought by police.
The Prado location proves ideal for drug transactions, DeSimone said, because it’s centrally located, right off Highway 285.
“It’s easy to get into Sandy Springs, find a parking lot and complete a drug transaction,” DeSimone said. He said part of the attraction for drug crime in Sandy Springs comes from the fact that drug crimes committed in Fulton County have lower penalties than in Cobb or other nearby counties.
During an unrelated investigation, DeSimone said an interviewee told police that if an arrest for narcotic is made in Sandy Springs, the person serves less time than he or she would in other counties.
“Any felony [arrest] has to go through Fulton County court system—only misdemeanors go through Sandy Springs,” DeSimone said. “It’s a county problem.”
This is mid-level drug dealing, DeSimone said, noting that Sandy Springs doesn’t have an open air drug markets. The mid-level deals are taken out [of Sandy Springs] to street level pushers, he said.
DeSimone said Sandy Springs averages “half a dozen homicides a year,” and last year seven homicides were reported, one of which was justifiable.
“It was a spike because we had no murders in the last year,” DeSimone said. “Overall, violent crime is down 14 percent compared to last year.”