Decatur, DeKalb, Atlanta explore link among recent violent crimes

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DECATUR, Ga. - Three local police departments are working together to help solve a recent rash of violent crimes.

Decatur police said crime in the area may be linked to several violent robberies in Atlanta and DeKalb County.

The three police departments are teaming up and held a community meeting Monday night at the Solarium in Decatur.

Concerned neighbors learned there have been 16 burglaries in the city since May 30, and five robberies in July.

Police said a 15-year-old carjacked a woman at gunpoint on Swanton Way on July 3. City workers followed the car and called police. Officers arrested the teen when he crashed the car  a few blocks away, police said.

On July 1, police said a group of teens targeted mothers with their children at Oakhurst Park. One victim told Channel 2’s Amy Napier Viteri that a teen pointed a gun at her, but she refused to hand over her phone. She said the group got away with another cellphone and her car.

Decatur’s police chief, joined Monday night by Atlanta and DeKalb police, told neighbors that crimes in all three jurisdictions could be linked.

“It’s a concerted effort between Atlanta and DeKalb and ourselves. I think we’re sharing some commonalities in the types of crimes and the methods of operation,” Decatur police Chief Mike Booker said.

Police said in the burglary cases, teenage boys are using stolen vehicles and targeting homes with lots of shade and driveways where they can back in.

Tammi Ryan said that is what happened to her June 25 when thieves broke into her Gresham Hills home in DeKalb County and stole a TV and jewelry.

Meeting attendee Sharron Reeves said there is a possible silver lining.

“I think the more frequent it is, the more chance it is for the police to catch them,” Reeves said.

Decatur police said they have developed at least one sketch of one of the robbery suspects, but they are not releasing it yet because they believe they have leads with Atlanta and DeKalb police, which could help identify him.

Atlanta Police Department's Zone 6 precinct area, which includes the neighborhoods of East Atlanta, Grant Park, Reynoldstown, Inman Park, Ormewood Park and others, has seen a number of violent crimes in recent weeks. Gunmen shot and killed 33-year-old Patrick Cotrona as he walked home from East Atlanta Village on Memorial Day. Sunday, three men robbed a DeKalb County man at gunpoint on Glenwood Avenue as he walked home from an East Atlanta bar. He told police one of the men had an AK-47 assault rifle.

Deputy Atlanta Police Chief Renee Propes, a former Zone 6 commander, said Monday that they have been working closely with DeKalb and Decatur police to solve these crimes. She said on July 4, DeKalb police arrested four men after officers found stolen guns, electronic equipment and checkbooks inside the men's apartment. Police also recovered two stolen cars. Propes thinks they could somehow be connected with crimes in and around East Atlanta.

"DeKalb made some significant arrests on the Fourth of July," said Propes. "We believe they may be related to some of the crimes here in Zone 6, because we know perpetrators don't know borders. They don't care. They go back and forth between zones, between jurisdictions."

Propes said solving these crimes is a top priority for APD and the city of Atlanta. She said there are extra police patrolling the area, and they have assigned other units from outside Zone 6 to aid in the search for the criminals, including the Tactical Traffic Unit, Community Oriented Policing Unit, Specials Ops and the Motor Squad.



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