Police are asking for the public’s help to identify suspects in the deadly shooting at a southwest Atlanta park over the weekend that left two dead and four wounded, including a 6-year-old girl.
An argument during a baseball or softball game on Sunday, Aug. 7, at Dunbar Recreational Center in Rosa L. Burney Park led to the deadly gunfire at about 7 p.m., according to police. Anyone with information can submit anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or www.crimestoppersatlanta.org and be eligible for a reward up to $2,000.
Mayor Andre Dickens said the Aug. 7 shooting was “essentially a mass shooting” and warned armed criminals they will be caught.
“We have a clear message for those who want to perpetrate a crime in our city,” Dickens said. “If you pull a gun in this town, you are going to jail.”
Dickens made the comments at the City Council’s public safety committee meeting on Aug. 8. He said he wanted to address the council members directly instead of holding a press conference to discuss the “alarming and disturbing” park shooting and what the city is doing to reduce crime.
“I am here because I take public safety very seriously,” he told the committee with interim Police Chief Darin Schierbaum at his side.
“There are too many illegal guns on our streets,” Dickens said. “An overwhelming majority of homicides in Atlanta are linked to gangs, drugs and the use of illegally-held firearms.
“If you’re a gang leader, you will be caught and you will be held accountable. And finally, if you’re carrying an illegal firearm, you will face the consequences,” Dickens said.
Dickens said thousands of illegal firearms have been confiscated this year by Atlanta police. People turning to guns to resolve disputes is a national problem, he added.
“When an argument happens, people are choosing guns instead of their words to solve these problems,” he said. “Anger and a gun is a bad combination right now all across America.”
Dickens noted the city has put on major events at parks over the summer, such as the Peachtree Road Race and the Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park, with no incidents. He added that 57 violent crimes were reported in parks at this time last year. So far this year, 49 serious crimes have been reported at city parks, for a 14% decrease, he said.
The public safety committee recommended approval for the city to spend $750,000 to hire extra security for the city’s park pools and athletic events at the Aug. 8 meeting.
Arrests of juveniles over the summer months are also down from last year, the mayor said, as are calls to police about illegal water sales. He credited programs such as Midnight Basketball and the Summer Youth Employment Program to helping reduce crime. Homicides are up, however, according to APD data.
“When you watch the news, read the news and get on social media, you would think that everything is on fire,” Dickens said. But APD data shows the city has seen a three-week decline in crime, he said.
“My message to the residents of Atlanta and visitors is clear. Our city is open for business and enjoyment,” the mayor said. “You and your families are safe in Atlanta, and we are working across our government and in our communities to invest in our policing and non-policing initiatives to protect and promote the quality of life in our city.”