Credit: Jason Vorhees/Macon Telegraph
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This Month 9 People Were Killed In Macon. Here's How Local Officials Plan To Respond
Entering the final month of what has already been a record-breaking year for violent deaths in Macon, county officials on Monday denounced “senseless, crazy conduct” that included a Thanksgiving-weekend slaying in the heart of downtown that left a young woman dead, five people shot and wounded and two others stabbed.
The 2:45 a.m. mayhem on Friday amid a fight at or near the Thirsty Turtle nightclub on Cherry Street, was followed a night later by a fatal shooting in which a Byron woman was killed after visiting an illegal bar at a house just south of Anthony Road near Henderson Stadium.
The year’s 48 homicides, nine in November, are a modern-day high, the most since 43 were slain countywide in 1992.
'Senseless, Heartbreaking' Violence
Friday’s predawn storm of gunfire in downtown, which stretched for parts of two blocks, stirred the most civic concern. The violent eruption in the image-conscious district struck a blow amid economic-revitalization efforts there.
Speaking at a Monday news conference at the Macon-Bibb County Government Center, Mayor Robert Reichert said, “It is heartbreaking for us to be here today and to have this streak of senseless violence across our community.”
Reichert went on to say investigators “will find out who did it, and the DA is going to prosecute them, and they’ll be going to jail.”
He added that those responsible for the bloodshed and “this sort of senseless, crazy conduct ... will be brought to justice. Justice will be served.”
'Justice Will Be Done'
The mayor said he and Sheriff David Davis and other public officials hoped to console families of the victims, condemn anyone responsible and ensure that “justice will be done.”
In the wake of suspending the Thirsty Turtle’s alcohol license, Davis said such measures may be used to curtail violence at other establishments where authorities deem not doing so would be imprudent.
Clubgoers, the sheriff said, need to be mindful of “personal responsibility.”
He said when people “see trouble beginning to brew, that’s the time to call 911, not when the shooting starts.”
He added that “there was already some trouble brewing” at or near the Cherry Street club “but nobody called.”
Josh Rogers, president and CEO of NewTown Macon, said safety measures that nightclubs and similar establishments may take in coming weeks include adding security officers for the downtown Christmas-light gala and implementing a texting system so that bars can notify other nightspots in the vicinity of troublemakers.
We Must Have Action
Mayor-elect Lester Miller said that extending thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families is “simply not enough. We must have action.”
Miller said public safety will be a leading priority for his administration and he said “stopping the violence means supporting our law enforcement,” funding community policing and increased patrols and code enforcement.
“But we can’t do it alone,” he said. “Effective action will require a commitment from the entire community.”
He added: “Those who commit violence will be held accountable. And those whose actions feed violence will be held accountable, not only in downtown Macon but in every part of our community. The victims and their families deserve empathy and justice.”
Davis said that the Thirsty Turtle’s alcohol license was suspended in part because the club’s surveillance cameras were not working, which he said is an ordinance violation.
The sheriff also said “some the actions of some of the employees of the establishment” have been called into question, though he did not elaborate.
So far, three automobiles have been impounded in a search for possible evidence in the downtown gunplay, Davis said, adding that multiple people may have had a hand in the violence.
“This is something that we’re having to unravel as it goes because there’s so many different people,” he said.
There has been some talk on the street that perhaps what sparked the downtown shooting did not originate in the club.
“To say that it didn’t happen in the club,” Davis said, “if it hadn’t have been for the club, it wouldn’t have happened.”
He said there was some indication of a dispute inside the club.
“Certainly no business wants violence to happen at their establishment, but in this case (taking away the alcohol license) was the prudent thing to do,” Davis said.
The sheriff said despite a shortage of deputies, some have since the summer been working overtime in potential trouble spots across the city. He said they will focus on “street-level actions” in coming days.
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with the Macon Telegraph.