DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Families are shocked to learn that a local teacher was one of the people charged with the murders of two children in a suspected gang-related killing that claimed two innocent lives.
Authorities arrested 26-year-old Michael White at Toney Elementary School in DeKalb County Friday.
White is one of 11 suspected gang members named in a more than 50-count indictment announced Thursday.
Police said the group aimed to retaliate against a 15-year-old who stole guns from their gang.
Nine of people have been charged with the murder for the deaths of 11-year-old Tatiyana and 15-year-old Daveon Coates in 2016.
Caron Clements is stunned that the same man who taught her 11-year-old grandson is now charged with murdering two children.
"I would sit in the class numerous times and just see how he would act with the students. He was just perfect with those children. I just don’t understand it,” Clements said.
Police insist the Coates children were killed innocently while they slept at a house on Libby Lane in Jonesboro.
“They were visiting with another family. There's no way they could know the harm coming their way,” said Clayton County police Chief Kevin Roberts.
For Clements, she hopes the truth will eventually come out in court and that the victim's family can get justice.
“I hope the mother of those children gets some comfort and some closure. That’s my most overall prayer,” Clements said.
The DeKalb County School District said White passed a background check in 2017 before he began teaching.
Police have not said what exact role they believe each suspect played in the murders.
White has been removed from Toney Elementary School until an investigation is complete, district officials said. He has taught fifth grade at the school since August, and began with the district as a paraprofessional in March 2017.
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