CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. — Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a memorial service held in a Target parking lot that resulted in several arrests.
Carrollton police told Channel 2 Action News on Sunday at 8:11 p.m. officers received reports of reckless drivers in a Target parking lot on Park Street.
The Target manager told dispatchers he was concerned for everyone’s safety and wanted the vehicles gone.
According to the report obtained by Channel 2 Action News, the manager told police 70 trucks were revving their engine and doing burnouts in the store parking lot.
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Ashley Ray was in the parking lot at the time of the incident and told Channel 2 Action News that the group had gathered to celebrate her cousin’s life, who passed away Saturday.
“My cousin died in a car accident, and we had a memorial for him in the Target parking lot,” she said. “Law enforcement pulled up and harassed all of us, pushing people to the ground for no reason. They brought out their guns for no reason.”
Ashley Ray told Channel 2 Action News they held the memorial in the Target parking lot because that is where he would hang out with his friends.
“I get pushed on by a police officer, a grown man,” Ashley Ray said.
When officers arrived at the scene, the report said that a crowd of 40 people quickly surrounded them.
“I recognized the situation as being potentially very dangerous,” one of the officers said in the report. “The crowd seemed irate, individuals were resisting arrest, and it was a borderline riot.”
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According to the report, officers grabbed a non-lethal weapon and pointed it toward the crowd, commanding them to get back and threatening to shoot if they did not do so.
Officers noted in the report that several older adults and children were in the crowd.
“I found it strange that these individuals would be in such close proximity to a volatile situation,” the officer said in the report. “The presence of the elderly and the young prevented me from utilizing my police weapons to gain compliance. I felt the members in the crowd knew this and used it to their advantage to continue the altercation.”
Deputies with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office were called to assist in the altercation due to the number of people and trucks, according to the report.
During the altercation, the report said one officer was pushed, punched, and had gear removed from her vest in the crowd.
The report added that three other officers were pushed, pulled and struck while attempting to arrest an individual they believed was inciting a riot.
Officers also noted that the parking lot was covered in black tire marks from multiple vehicles driving recklessly.
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Authorities arrested Raymond Ray Jr. and charged him with disorderly conduct.
“I understand now. I’m sorry about that,” Robert Ray Sr. said.
Ashley Ray told Channel 2 Action News Raymond Ray Jr. was the father of her cousin, who was killed in the car crash.
Officers also arrested Kacey Ray and charged her with obstruction and battery. According to Ashley Ray, Kacey Ray was the sister of the car accident victim.
The report added that Raymond Ray Sr. and Robert Ray were cited and released due to their ages and medical conditions.
“The situation at Target could have escalated further if not for the officer’s actions on the scene,” police officials wrote in a statement to Channel 2 Action News. “The attitude and hostility of the crowd placed officers in fear of receiving violent injuries. Further charges are justified and warranted by correctly identifying other aggressors at the scene. Because of low manpower and a very large crowd, not all aggressors could be identified or spoken to.”
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