DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A brother and sister were arrested Monday in connection with the shooting death of a 7-year-old girl more than a month ago.
Mariasia Thomas was hit by a stray bullet while she was at her foster parent’s house in Ellenwood on April 12. She was pronounced dead 10 days after the shooting.
Channel 2's Sophia Choi was in DeKalb County, where police continued to investigate and made a break in the case on Monday.
Antoine Allen, 21, and Keadesia Allen, 23, were arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
Choi spoke to DeKalb police Sgt. A.T. Quigley about why he thinks they were able to solve the crime so quickly.
"Any time there’s a violent crime involving a child, I think we all step it up a notch," Quigley said. "There were detectives that were willing to work far more hours on this case, the motivation factor was definitely there."
DeKalb police patrol a big area, about 270 square miles of the most densely populated county in the state. But DeKalb County has a nearly 92% murder clearance rate, far better than the national average of 64%.
Choi spoke to veteran DeKalb officers about how their department is solving other violent crimes just as quickly.
Detectives said community involvement, training and the number of boots on the ground all make a difference.
"We have obtained a higher level of public trust," Quigley said. "And when the public trusts law enforcement, there's a much easier communication between the two."
Chief Jack Lumpkin, the DeKalb Public Safety Director, said that community cooperation is something they have worked hard to achieve.
"Public safety is a shared responsibility," Lumpkin said. "If we don’t have citizen support, if they don’t have tips. If they don’t have information going forward. and if they don’t treat people with respect and dignity, then they don’t get that (back)."
Police said veteran officers are often working overtime and leading rookies by example.
"There's never a case that's not OK to solve in DeKalb," Capt. A. W. Ford said. "We've had people work straight through, 18-20 hour days, because they're following a case."
Getting more young recruits onto the streets has also helped. In 2018, DeKalb County had 713 sworn officers. That number jumped to 742 in 2019 with plans to add 98 more officers by year's end.
Officers say competitive pay and perks help attract recruits. Officials are also looking at giving out signing bonuses to attract more officers.
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