The suspect has been identified as 16-year-old Lederrick Dontae Pitts of Griffin, who is wanted for aggravated assault; aggravated battery; participation in a criminal street gang; possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime; and possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 18.
Spalding County Sheriff Wendell Beam said Pitts is armed and considered dangerous. He asked that anyone with information on the whereabouts of Pitts contact local law enforcement. Beam said, “Your information will remain anonymous.”
Beam said Saturday that the victim was “shot at least twice in the chest and stomach area.” The teen was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center and was in critical but stable condition.
The sheriff said deputies were dispatched at about 4 p.m. to Tyus Park on Cowan Road in reference to a person shot. Officers arrived and located a large crowd gathered at the pavilion area near the lake.
Beam said about 20 to 25 teenagers were having a cookout at Tyus Park Friday afternoon. He said investigators have found that the shooting was gang-related and involved two rival gangs in Spalding County, and the gathering was to celebrate “junior skip day,” which involved students from Griffin High School and Spalding High School.
When asked about rumors about the event, Elizabeth A. Benz, communications specialist with the Griffin-Spalding County School System, said the cookout “was not a Griffin High or Spalding High Step Club event.”
A fight broke out, Beam said, and during the fight guns were brought in and the victim was shot. The suspect ran from the scene with friends of the victim chasing him and firing shots from the gun that the victim had in his possession.
Beam said 17-year-old Sebastian Deaudre Williams of Griffin was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 18, for his actions of shooting at the suspect as the suspect left the scene.
The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected, the sheriff said.
“It should be noted that this seems to be an isolated incident and there have not been any similar type of incidents in any of the Spalding County Parks,” Beam said.
Audrey Hightower, a mother of one of those attending the Friday cookout, said the shooting was gang-related. She said members of the Zulu Crew gang followed her 18-year-old son home and fired a shot in their Bleachery Street home.
“I’m not going to be a victim in my own home,” Hightower said Monday. “They need to start arresting them. I’m sick and tired of it.”
Hightower said she has worked as a substitute teacher in the local schools and talked with students about the problems they face.
“The kids have too much time on their hands. Schools need to set up something for them to do,” she said, to combat the gang and drug problems, as well as teenage pregnancy.
Instead of suspending them, “which gives them a free pass to get out of school,” Hightower said the students need to be in school or in a work program.