Atlanta police confirm deadly shootout near Atlantic Station is gang-related

ATLANTA — Atlanta police investigators told Channel 2 Action News that the shooting death of a 12-year-old near Atlantic Station is gang-related.

In an exclusive interview with Channel 2 Action News on Monday, Atlanta police Capt. Ralph Woolfolk, who leads the Gang Prosecution Unit, confirmed that the shooting on Saturday near Atlantic Station is likely gang-related.

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Police said on Saturday, a group of kids was kicked out of the area. Shortly, after, there was a fight near the 17th Street Bridge and shots were fired, killing 12-year-old Zyion Charles.

“We’re still working, as to the specific nature to specific individuals involved with the gangs, in reference to the incident. We are certain that there’s an element as to a gang component at this time,” said Capt. Ralph Woolfolk with Atlanta Police Department’s Special Enforcement Section.


Deerica Charles, who is Zyion’s mother, told Atlanta City Council on Monday that she had begged for someone, anyone to save her son, before it was too late.

“I tried y’all. I called the police office almost 30 times — 30 times within the last two years,” Charles said.

Charles said she knew he was heading down the wrong path: “I called the police on my son. I know my son was coming out late, I called the police several times. I said could y’all please lock my son up.”

On Monday, Channel 2′s investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis about gangs and the juvenile system.

“We have seen children being indoctrinated into this, at the age of toddlers. I think we’re going to have to look at the juvenile code. I think that is an issue. We have begun to talk to the governor and other legislatures, and different problems that we’ve seen within the criminal code, but the juvenile code specifically,” Willis said.

For 13 years, Terrence Jackson has worked as a mental health advocate at Emory University Hospital. He said the increase in crime involving young people is impacting the entire community, including causing constant anxiety.

“Especially within our own community, it puts you in a space of wondering, ‘What’s going to happen to me? Am I going to be next? Am I going to be a victim? Am I going to be a target?’” Jackson said.

Jackson said there is help for parents who feel their kids are heading down the wrong path. Parents should intervene quickly. Find a therapist who has experience in helping teens, talk to your child and allow them to express themselves to you, and most importantly, listen.

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