ATLANTA - Atlanta police now believe the slaying of an east Atlanta man may be tied to a series of other violent crimes, including the shooting of a Braves fan as he walked home from Turner Field.
Police flooded the streets of southeast Atlanta on Tuesday. Detectives knocked on every door hoping to find new information about both shootings.
"The descriptions that we've received from the robbery victims clearly indicate there's some similarities," said APD Chief George Turner.
Turner said investigators are looking into the possibility that the violence may be gang-related, and said it appears there are multiple people involved.
"Whether they have a name, I don’t know anything about that. But I do know that people are doing some consistent things and that’s what we’re concerned about
"We believe it may be a group of individuals that are working the area collectively," said Turner. "We’ve got someone that is extremely dangerous without really any justification."
Tuesday evening police released surveillance video to Channel 2 Action News that they believe show the suspects. The video is from the Ark of Salvation Church on Georgia Avenue, near Grant Park. Click here to watch the video.
It shows the victim, Saman Balkhanian, and then two men walking in front of the church. Balkhanian was shot in the head and then ran from the men. You can see Balkhanian running away from the two men in the video.
Police said the men cut through the church property and parking lot. One was wearing white shorts or pants and a blue shirt, the other in dark shorts. Thursday Balkhanian told Channel 2's amy Napier Viteri from his hospital room that he will likely lose his right eye from the shooting.
A week later, a gunman shot Patrick Cotrona, 33, and his roommate as they walked home from an East Atlanta bar blocks from their house. The roommate survived.
Cotrona was pronounced dead at the hospital. Family members have now put up a sign marking the spot where Cotrona was shot.
"He's about as innocent as a person can be," said Cotrona's sister Kate Cotrona Krumm. "I don't think that it ever occurred to him that something would happen. He was such a kind and loving person."
Krumm said Cotrona grew up in Peachtree City and graduated with honors from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science.
"We've received so many calls and texts and Facebook messages and an amazing outreach from the East Atlanta community who I know share in our loss," said Krumm.
Clay McClure, Cotrona's former roommate while he was studying at Georgia Tech, said he too wanted answers as he put flowers on this growing memorial along Flat Shoals Avenue.
"The community has lost its innocence. He was innocent," McClure said. "Try to make sense of it but I think it’s just a senseless crime. It’s a real loss."
After working in the corporate world, she said, he took a job with an Atlanta-based computer gaming company. She said he moved into East Atlanta Village about three years ago.
East Atlanta is in Atlanta City Council Member Natalyn Archibong's district. In fact, she lives only a few blocks from the crime scene.
She compares this slaying to the killing of southeast Atlanta bartender John Henderson a few years back that sparked a series of angry protests around the city. She wants to see neighborhoods join forces to combat crime.
"Not only is this a tipping point, but enough is enough," said Archibong. "We want to have a sustained approach where we have cameras and connection with the video integration system, so we can make sure there's always monitoring of what is happening in our commercial areas and nearby streets."
Turner is asking potential witnesses to come forward with any information they may know about these crimes.
"We're doing everything we can to try and pool that information together," said Turner. "We need people who were in this area during the time of that particular murder and also the robberies to come forward and give us information."
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