Re-Launch of Court Watch Program

August 27, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 

In a nutshell:

  • Detailed general information on our court watch initiative at http://www.midtownponce.org/misc/court-watch
  • Just let us know in reply to this eblast that you would like to be on the notification list for key court hearing dates.
  • Details on the six cases submitted to the DA’s office listed below

gavel1. Meeting with our community prosecutor

Earlier this week we met with Keith Lamar, our current Zone 5 Prosecutor. We presented six cases of interest to us:

  • four cases involving robbery suspects
  • two more long-standing offenders (burglary) whom we have both court watched in the past and who currently have new cases.

The six cases are listed below. We were very pleased with the attention given in the cases, and received some recommendations on how to prioritize these cases. These cases will be closely monitored by us and by our community prosecutors. Our feeling is that Midtown has a lot of support and interest from the Fulton County DA’s office via our community prosecutor. Currently, Keith Lamar is acting as community prosecutor for both zones 5 and 6. A new community prosecutor is coming on board very soon to take over Zone 5 (our zone), and we will be meeting with her at some point. During the transition period Mr. Lamar will work closely with us in dealing with the six cases we have presented to him. In other words, we are now moving full force ahead with the court watch program.

2. The court program – what it is:

The website of the Fulton County District Attorney’s office sums it up best: One of the most successful and recognizable Fulton County Community Prosecution initiatives is the Citizens’ CourtWatch program. Often dubbed the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community in court, CourtWatch was created by District Attorney Howard as a vehicle to engage average citizens in the criminal justice system. As Community Prosecutors track cases involving repeat offenders and those of general interest to the community, CourtWatchers are encouraged to attend court proceedings and, when deemed appropriate by the Court, offer perspective regarding the impact a defendant’s criminal activity has on a community. We have revised our general information page on the court watch program at http://www.midtownponce.org/misc/court-watch

3. What we now need from neighborhood folks:

If you are at least sometimes available in the mornings, and can go with us to a court hearing, then we would like to add you to a special email distribution list for court watch purposes. When a case arises, we will then send out a detailed case briefing, work out carpooling arrangements, and other logistical details. While a pool of about 20-30 potential participants would be optimal, we normally only need a handful of volunteers to actually go to a hearing. One person knowledgeable about the case in question and its defendant(s) will be designated a spokesperson for the group (normally an MPSA board member). Sometimes multiple neighborhood groups are involved with a court watch case, as we often share many of the same criminals with other nearby places.

Hearings very often come up on very short notice, and in many cases it may even come in the late afternoon for a hearing the very next morning. We will monitor dates through the Superior Court website, but last minute changes do happen. We then call upon the court watch volunteer list for a handful of attendees for the hearing, and quickly work out carpooling arrangements, provide a detailed briefing on the case, etc. This is very much a hit-or-miss deal – sometimes we can make it, sometimes not. The larger our pool of volunteers, the more likely we will “hit.” Historically, we typically attended one or two hearings per month and many did not result in a conviction on that day. Sometimes defendants back off of a guilty plea when they learn that court watch attendees are in the gallery, but even when that happens we know we are getting somewhere with a clear message that folks will take a strong stance against those bringing criminal activity to our neighborhood. But when they do take a plea, or a guilty verdict is handed down, then we want to be ready to spring into action.

4. The cases we submitted (each linked to its own case briefing sheet):

  • Case 1: Cedric Tramel MITCHELL, suspect in incident in which victim was robbed with pepper spray – Details in Case briefing
  • Case 2: Robert WILLIAMSON – suspect in robbery on 10th Street – Details in Case briefing
  • Case 3: Demetrius Jerome FARRELL, Gary Darrell FARRELL, Teairra Necole LOCKETT, Tiambra Alexis SMITH, and a juvenile arrested after a street robbery at Argonne & 7th – Details in Case briefing
  • Case 4: Sheridan Chase WHITE and another suspect under active warrant (we will name once arrested) in carjacking incident – Details in Case briefing
  • Case 5: Timothy KOZAK - An old Court Watch/Parole Watch offender for us who has reoffended. He is of interest to other neighborhoods too – Details in Case briefing
  • Case 6: Andrew ARNETT – another long-standing offender among our court watch/parole watch cases. – Details in Case briefing

Call for Volunteers: Light up Midtown

August 17, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 

Your neighbors are getting together and taking action to light up Midtown, but we need YOUR help. To address the lighting situation in Midtown, we need to make this a collective effort.

light1a-450The goal is to (1) find out which city streetlights/bulbs need to be replaced and (2) find out which areas we need to request the city to add streetlights.

We are calling for volunteers to sign-up for a street (partial street, block, alley, etc.) to check on the streetlights and dark areas. We hope to have the list of lighting needs/information compiled by August 31.

Please see the attached map for streets that need volunteers (we also need people to sign up for alleys)! To sign up for a street, half of a street, a block, alley, etc., please email midtownlightaudit@gmail.com.

If you volunteer to check a certain street, block, or alley, we request you do the following on or before August 31 and email the information to midtownlightaudit@gmail.com:

1. For broken streetlights: Write down the Serial Number on the light pole (if you cannot see the serial number, go back during the day and see if you can find it) and write down the location of the pole (i.e. on Argonne between 6th and 7th in front of ### (House number). Take a moment to study the physical relationship of the pole to the surrounding buildings, driveways, and other permanent features and include this in your description. If possible, take a picture of the pole and surrounding area.

2. For dark areas where we need a streetlight: If there is already a pole (but no streetlight is attached to the pole), write down the pole serial number and write down the location of the pole (i.e. on Argonne between 6th and 7th in front of ### (House number). Take a moment to study the physical relationship of the pole to the surrounding buildings, driveways, and other permanent features and include this in your description. If possible, take a picture of the pole and surrounding area. Also, feel free to make any other notes or suggestions you might have for helping to light up the dark area.

Please, DO NOT walk by yourself. We want you to do this in groups and please take flashlights with you. As an incentive for volunteering, we want to organize a neighborhood get-together (snacks, adult beverages, and good conversation with your neighbors). We are planning the get-together for Tuesday, September 1 and will give more details when available.

We want to light up Midtown and take away all those dark hiding spots, but we need your help to do it!

Midtown-Map

ROBBERY SUSPECTS APPREHENDED IN THREE INCIDENTS

August 15, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 

First the bad news: we had three robberies during the first week of August, with the stats covering only the first 11 days of this month. The good news, and it really is good news, is that in all three cases the perpetrators were quickly caught and remain in jail as we speak. We have posted mugshots of these suspects in the gallery below. These cases also come laden with significance in that they underscore three crucial challenges facing the neighborhood:

CRIMINALS UNWANTED

CRIMINALS UNWANTED

1. Fulton County courts sentence too many repeat offenders too leniently. With the 8/05 robbery we see how people in the community are being victimized by repeat felony offenders who should have been dealt with long ago.

2. The situation with street prostitution and drug activity in the Piedmont & 3rd/4th area seems to be escalating into a more serious matter. The 8/04 robbery demonstrates the Broken Windows theory in action – public disorder not suppressed escalates into increasingly serious criminal activity.

3. Many of our robberies are perpetrated by offenders coming from relatively far away rather than in the neighborhood or even nearby places like Bedford-Pine. The offenders in the 8/02 carjacking situation came up from Southwest Atlanta to scout for victims, so effective preventive measures have to be taken in part well outside of Midtown.

#152170393 – Juniper & 10th – 8/05/2015 – Robbery (strongarm)

On 8/5/2015 at 3:30am the victim was walking along 10th Street to his UBER ride after leaving Blake’s when he was approached by an unknown male asking for cash. The victim told the male that he did not have any cash, so the male lunged at him, grabbed him around his neck, and began to choke him until the victim fell to the ground. While being choked, the assailant went through the victim’s pocket and extracted some cash. After taking the money, the offender calmly continued along 10th Street toward Piedmont. A witness was walking along the other side of 10th at the time of the robbery, and told police that he had also been approached by the same offender a few minutes prior. Several police units, with the help of MPSA Patrol, canvassed the area and spotted the suspect at Juniper & 4th, an area alreadyinordinately plagued with street criminals. Both the victim and the witness were taken to the location of interception, where they positively identified the suspect as the perpetrator.

The suspect, Robert Williamson, was charged with Robbery and transported to the Fulton County jail where he remains as of this writing on robbery charges. This is his 26th booking at the Fulton County jail according to public records. He was also released from his last prison sentence in 2014 after serving less than an year and a half for another robbery, an offense for which the Georgia Criminal Code provides for 20 years imprisonment. His periods of incarceration keep getting shorter and shorter, and this offender has been recycled through the drug court program in recent years. This offender has also been known to deal drugs on the street, and was banished from the Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park area as part of sentencing in a previous offense.

#152160049 – 300s Ponce de Leon Avenue – 8/04/2015 – Robbery (pepper spray)

Shortly after midnight police on 8/04/2015 responded to a call about a male screaming as he was running in the roadway. Upon arrival they found that the victim had been pepper-sprayed by one of the street criminals frequently loitering in the Piedmont & 3rd area. The victim was walking to Krispy Kreme when what he described to police as a “male dressed as a female. wearing a wig and a purple dress.” He further told police that the assailant ran up behind him, asked for $5 and then solicited him for sex, both of which the victim declined. The perpetrator then became angry, pepper sprayed him, and demanded his wallet. The victim started to run as he pulled out his cellphone to call 911, but because he was disabled by the pepper spray the assailant grabbed it out of his hand and fled.

Because the victim’s phone had a tracking app, police were later able to locate the offender several blocks away on Piedmont. When police reached the location where the phone was showing, they noticed an individual toss some objects into some nearby bushes. Police intercepted the individual, now identified as Cedric Mitchell, and recovered the victim’s cellphone and pepper spray from the bushes. Mitchell was transported to his 15th booking in the Fulton County jail on charges of Armed Robbery, Simple Battery, and Theft By Taking. This offender has prior convictions for drug and theft offenses. It is also worth noting that this offender often sports a big smile in his jail mugshots (see collage in gallery below).

#152140391 – 295 Ponce – 8/02/2015 – Carjacking

As the victim was leaving the Eagle nightclub, he was approached by two black males that seemed to be yelling homophobic slurs at him. Once he got closer to the two males, “they [seemed] nice and needed a ride to Vine City MARTA Terminal,” so he allowed the two men enter his vehicle. Once all seated in the vehicle, the male in the back seat began going through his things, and the other then said that they needed to go pick up someone else. So the victim rescinded the offer to take them to Vine City. One of the males then began striking the victim and then pulled out a handgun while continuing to strike him. At that point they took his phone and his wallet, dragged him out of the car and threw him onto the ground. Then they drove off with the vehicle.

Once officers put out a bulletin on the carjacked vehicle, police units in Southwest Atlanta located it and arrested one of the suspects. Police there noted that he seemed to be wiping prints off of the vehicle. The victim was taken to the location of interception in Southwest Atlanta, where he positively identified the detained suspect as being among the pair that robbed him. The suspect arrested, Sheridan White, was taken to the Fulton County jail on charges of Hijacking A Motor Vehicle, Aggravated Assault With A Deadly Weapon, Armed Robbery, and Obstruction or Hindering Law Enforcement Officer. He remains in the Fulton County jail ineligible for bond according to public records. The police report also noted that “voluntarily stated that he was due in court on Tuesday 8/4/2015 for Receiving Stolen Property (stolen vehicle) and that it was said to be affiliated with a gang.” Public records confirm an arrest for these charges this past February.

Police believe they have identified the other suspect, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. So far nobody has been booked into the jail under that name. We will update once a booking is found.

Suspects named in this report: 

Pictures from National Night Out 2015

August 5, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 

A GREAT TIME HAD BY ALL!

On August 4th, MNA and MPSA brought together Midtown Residents and Businesses to celebrate in “Giving Neighborhood Crime & Drugs A Going Away Party”. We staged our annual block party on Myrtle Street between 4th and 5th Streets. Atlanta Police Department and other public officials joined us to promote police/community partnerships, crime prevention awareness, safety and neighborhood unity. Residents and Businesses got to meet our Zone 5 officers and City Officials.

NNO 2015 Business Sponsors/Donors:

MPSA annual Sponsors: Coro Realty; Midtown Tire (Goodyear); Fifth Group; Post Properties;

Donors for NNO:  Target; Zaxby’s; Cultivators; Boogalou; Monroe Shell Station; The Hilliard Firm; Papi’s; TpFlr; Lucky Exchange; Highland Bakery; Piedmont Conservancy; Sig Samuels Cleaners; Midtown Smile Center Dental; Brusters; Mary Macs Tea Room; Symposium Wine; Fast Signs; L & M Grocery; Krispy Kreme; The Dakota; Shep’s Midtown Ace Hardware; City Councilman Kwanza Hall; Lethal Rhythms Entertainment

Thank you for your continued support in making Midtown safe. We’ll be doing this next year!

Major Incidents – July

July 31, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 

MPSA has observed an increase in armed robbers entering our neighborhood in cars, striking quickly, then exiting the neighborhood. We urge folks to be aware of their surroundings when walking around late at night especially in areas with poor lighting, and to avoid distractions such as cell phones. Awareness of your surroundings and early recognition of potential trouble is your first line of defense, whether in Midtown or elsewhere. Midtown’s vibrancy and access are what make it so special to all of us, but vigilance is critical.

#152122991 – 400s Greenwood – Robbery – 7/31/2015

A robbery is a step short of a homicide

A robbery is a step short of a homicide

[Summary] During the 11pm hour two men in a silver SUV held up a woman as she was walking into her home. According to the police report, she was standing in front of her home texting, with her back toward the street, when she was suddenly pushed from behind and to the floor of her porch. With a gun pointed to her head, she was robbed of her purse and cell phone. As suspect description in the report, the only detail was two black males. The victim was so shaken that she did not get a good look at them.

#152023173 – 700s Argonne Avenue – Robbery – 7/21/2015

[Summary] As they walked along Argonne at 4th toward 3rd Street during the 11pm hour, two victims were approached by two young black males armed with handguns. When the victims noticed they were being followed, the offenders closed the gap and robbed the victims They then left the scene calmly, headed north on Argonne. The victims described the males as being in their mid to late 20’s. Cellphones and keys were taken.

#152022900 – 300s 10th Street – Robbery by snatch – 7/21/2015

[Summary] During the 9pm hour a would-be victim flagged down police to report that someone had just attempted to snatch his bag. The would-be victim did not comply, and nothing was taken. Police canvassed the area but did not find the suspect.

#151992592 – 265 Ponce de Leon Ave – Aggravated Assault – 7/18/2015

[Summary] During the 11pm hour on 7/18 two women got into an intense street fight. Once police arrived they began interrogating two women about the fight, one of whom already had a gash over her eye. Then the woman swung and struck the one with the gash. Once the belligerent woman was brought under control, she was booked into the Fulton County jail on aggravated battery charges.

#151942842 – 931 Monroe – Carjacking – 7/13/2015

[Summary] Around 11pm three victims were on their way back to the car parked in front of Starbucks when a car with four black males pulled up, and then robbed and carjacked the victims. The victims were unhurt. Around 5pm on the next day police intercepted a group in southwest Atlanta with multiple cars that had been carjacked in other places, including the one here in Midtown and another from Douglas County. One of the suspects had keys to additional vehicles that had been carjacked in other places. The arrestees extracted from the Midtown car (who were not necessarily the four culprits the night before) were ages 12, 16, 16 and 15 The arrestees pulled from the vehicle carjacked in Douglas County were ages 15, 16, and 20. The suspects all live in zip code 30311, in southwest Atlanta.

#152000000 – Glendale & 8th area – Misc. Serious Incident

[Summary from victim] “[We] I were awakened around 11:30pm by repeated knocking on our front door. We looked outside and saw 4 black men walking around our front and back yards. One in the back was walking around smoking and peering into our back windows. We called 911 and the police arrived within 2 minutes. Long story short — they caught and arrested 3 men, none of whom were armed but all have criminal records and prior convictions for burglary (2 are on probation). The police [told us] this was textbook casing and were certain they were going to break in — which apparently just happened in a very similar way in the 300 block of 9th St. While we were being interviewed, [We] also saw a gold minivan in front of our house idling before we called 911. About 20 minutes after the police left with the first 3 in custody, they came back and asked us to identify a minivan down the street (parked in front of a neighbor’s house). It was the same one [we] had seen. They found a 16-17 year old black male hiding in the van – which is registered to the grandmother of one of the other three. The police arrested that person as well. While I was walking home, he shouted “You’re dead” at me from the back of the police car. [We believe] a 5th person might be out there — the guy in the back she saw looked about 40 — but he wasn’t one of the people caught. (I’m guessing the van was going to be driven up our driveway).” MPSA note: A gun was found on the property of a nearby neighbor’s house, which leads us to believe that this crew may have had some very bad intentions. Three suspects were arrested in this incident, and we have identified two of them (the full police report will not be available until a later date). Their mugshots are below. Court records show Cory Roberts to be on active probation for burglary, and Jarquavious Pierce has a felony conviction for Theft. 


Two of the arrestees from the Glendale & 8th incident


#151952327 – 800s Myrtle Street – 7/14/2015 – Burglary

[Summary] At 3:40pm on 7/14/2015 a home on Myrtle Street was burglarized and robbed while the homeowner was taking a nap with the dog upstairs. A thin, tall African Americam male around 18-20 years old with shoulder-length braids stole four laptops, and spent about 10-20 minutes in the house based on surveillance video. It is believed that he had prior knowledge of the home, which is currently under renovation. A video of the suspect is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRsy-uuXAS0, and still shots have been shared on Nextdoor.com.

#151940801 – 700s Monroe Drive – 7/13/2015 – Burglary

[Summary] On July 13, 2015 between 1:40 am and 3:30am, at least two men stoled thousands of dollars in computers from a commercial building in the 700 block of Monroe Drive. A video of the suspects is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuynlg5rFN0

#151893099 – 600s Durant – 7/09/2015 – Robbery

I Sgt. P**** responded to a pedestrian robbery call at 600s Durant Pl. Upon arrival I spoke with both victims, Mr. VICTIM1 and Mr. VICTIM2. They both stated that they were standing outside of their apartment smoking a cigarette when 3 black males walked up to them. One black male wearing a white t-shirt pulled out a sliver handgun and stated, “shut the fuck up and get on the ground.” One victim got on the ground and the other stood with his hands up. The other two suspects then went into the victims pockets. They took a Nexus 85, keys. wallet with ID, Visa Credit card, $47 and a pack of cigarettes from Mr. VICTIM2. They went through Mr. VICTIM1’s pockets, but he did not have any belongings on him. The suspects began to walk away. As they walked away they said he can have the cigarettes back and threw them on the ground. ID 7338 came out to the scene and processed the cigarette package. There is a halfway house on the corner that has cameras pointed towards where the suspects walked and possible captured them walking right before they committed the robbery. I spoke with the Georgia Corrections officer working inside, and he said that they would be able to pull the tape in the morning. Investigator 5529 came to the scene to debrief the victims. There was no injuries. Phoenix was raised and canvassed the area for the suspects.

#151893045 – 300s 8th Street – 7/08/2015 – Robbery

On 7/8/15 I was dispatched to a pedestrian robbery at 323 8th St NE. Upon arrival I spoke with Mr. VICTIM. Mr. VICTIM stated that he was outside his apartment and two black males came up on him and pulled a silver handgun on him. The males forced him to lay down and started stealing his property. They took an iPhone 65, Wallet with all credit cards, and a set of keys. Mr. VICTIM stated that both males where black males between the ages of 17-23. The male with the gun was wearing a white tank top and dark colored shorts, with a high-top fade. Mr. VICTIM stated he didn’t get a good look on the 2nd male. After the robbery he stated the males casually walked up 8th St towards Argonne Ave. CID 5529 was notified. No further action was taken at this time. MPSA NOTE: This incident was covered in media reports, which you can read at Project Q and at Midtown Patch

#151870894 – 800s Penn Ave – 7/05/2015 – Robbery

Mr. A. VICTIM reported at the zone five precinct an incident of robbery. Mr. VICTIM stated to officer B****1 (desk officer) that he was walking in the area of his home (7-5- 2015 after 2200hrs.) on Penn Ave. NE when he was approached from behind by a black male subject who asked him for his phone. Mr. VICTIM said that the male suddenly pulled out a small gray color hand gun and pointed it at him and then rifled through his pockets. Mr. VICTIM advised that the male took his cellular phone and wallet and ran off–telling him repeatedly not to turn around. Mr. VICTIM wasn’t injured as a result of this incident. Mr. VICTIM said that on the following day 7-6-2015 at approximately 0800hrs., he found his wallet on his front porch – minus $25 cash. Mr. VICTIM offered no explanation as to why he did not call the police on 7-5-2015. officer B****1 contacted the zone five investigative unit (B****) who responded to the zone five mobile precinct and interviewed Mr. VICTIM.

#151862563 – 900s Argonne Ave – 7/05-2015 – Robbery

On July 5th, 2015 at 11:00 pm I was dispatched to 900s Argonne Ave NE regarding an armed pedestrian robbery. I arrived on scene at 11:05 pm and spoke to VICTIM whom stated that he was walking West on 8th St across Argonne Ave NE when someone suddenly came up behind him and put a gun to his neck, asking for whatever he had on him. Mr. VICTIM stated that he gave them his wallet and cell phone. Mr. VICTIM described the two males as black, young males. very early 20’s, one wearing a white shirt and red jeans. the other wearing dark clothing. The males fled on foot west on Argonne Ave. The number to the stolen phone is: ###-###-####. No one was injured in this incident and Sgt. J**** was notified. General Investigator Unit 4380 responded to the scene and spoke to the victim. I was driving vehicle # 32416. There are no cameras in this area. Mr. VICTIM does not have a phone, however. his friend NNNN can contact him: ###### and his address is XXX xth St NE. This incident will be related to incident #151862561 which occurred only 1 minute prior to this at 800s Glendale Ave NE which is less than one block down the street.

#151862561 – 800s Glendale – 7/05/2015 – Robbery

On July 5th, 2015 at 11:00 pm I was dispatched to 890 Glendale Terrace NE regarding an armed pedestrian robbery. I arrived at the location at 11:05 pm and spoke to Mr. VICTIM. who stated that two black males approached him while he was walking on Glendale Terrace across 8th St NE. one with what appeared to be a gun in his hand, demanding whatever he had on him. Mr. VICTIM stated that all he had on him was his Black Apple iPhone 6 so he gave it to them and they ran away on foot. Mr. VICTIM stated that they were two young black males, wearing a white tank top/ t-shirt and red basketball shorts. The other male may have potentially had on dark colored shorts. The males were very young 20’s and fled on foot North on 8th St and West on Argonne Ave. Mr. VICTIM stated that the iPhone had a cracked screen as well. Mr. VICTIM stated that he was tracking his iPhone using Apple ID: #### and the last known location for it was Peachtree St and 10th St NE, then the signal went dead. The stolen phone‘s # is #### No one was injured in this incident and Sgt Peters was notified. This incident will be related to case #151862563, the same suspects on both calls.

#151833071 – 300s 7th Street – 7/02/2015 – Robbery

Reported in separate bulletin at http://www.midtownponce.org/p6784.html

From the MPSA President 7/23/15

July 23, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 
patti1

Many residents came out for the special safety meeting at the home of Patti & Jeff Ellis

Let me begin by thanking Patti and Jeff Ellis for hosting Wednesday evening’s Midtown safety event. It was great to have the police officers there, including Zone 5 Commander Major Wayne Whitmire & Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane, as well as City Council Members Kwanza Hall and Alex Wan. It is important that we take last night’s concerns and energy, and do what we all can to make Midtown a safer place to live. As the new president of the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance, I would encourage you to join our organization if you are not already a member. Since its inception in 2003, MPSA has done a great deal to make Midtown safer, and will be offering additional ideas to address what I hear and believe to be the most immediate concerns: the spike in the number of armed robberies and home break-ins.

In the weeks and months ahead, we are going to be working hard on a membership drive to bring in more resources to MPSA. This will allow us to add to the currently budget 36 hours/week of patrolling being coordinated by retired Atlanta Police Department Sergeant Bill Cooper (concentrating even more on the times the armed robberies are occurring, late night/early morning). In addition, we are going to be working on increasing the number of homeowners with cameras. Based upon what I have learned to this point, a good camera system can be purchased and installed for less than $2,000.00. My wife and I are moving ahead with a camera system at our home on Charles Allen Drive. I would like to thank everyone who attended last night’s meeting and encourage you to join MPSA at a cost of $275.00/year for most homeowners. I look forward to working with you on the common goal of making Midtown an even better place to live.

Guy Drexinger
President, Midtown Ponce Security Alliance

NEW BOARD COMPOSITION FOR THE MPSA

July 21, 2015 · Posted in Announcements, Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 

The Midtown Ponce Security Alliance now has a new president. Bill Nickles, who served for a year since Peggy Denby retired in 2014, had to step down due to commitments out of state. We are grateful for his service, and wish him all the best in Boston. We will miss him and reminded him that Midtown will always be a home for him.

Guy Drexinger, MPSA President

Guy Drexinger, MPSA President

After an exhaustive search, we recruited Guy Drexinger as our new president. He moved to Midtown from Marietta in 2014. As a CPA he was in a tax accounting practice with his father in the 1980s in East Cobb. After graduating from law school in 1992, he started a solo law practice in Downtown Marietta, specializing in estate administration, where he continues to work with his wife. He has been on a number of boards in Cobb County, was a County Administrator through the Cobb County Probate Court from 2000-2005, and ran a statewide campaign for Insurance Commissioner in 2006. He and his wife live on Charles Allen Drive, and their 24 year old daughter, Lauren, lives in Grant Park.

The MPSA board is now composed as follows (with year that they joined the MPSA board):

  • President: Guy Drexinger (2015)
  • Vice President: Steve Gower (2003)
  • Treasurer: Ed Seemann (2008)
  • Secretary: Jim Stapleton (2015)
  • Board Member: Joe Vivona (2012)
  • Board Member: Brad Edmonds (2013)
  • Board Member: Chandra Stephens-Albright (2013)
  • Board Member: Laura Brickell (2015)
  • Board Member: Todd Ervin (2015)
  • Advisory: Michael Floyd (2007)
  • President Emerita: Peggy Denby (2003)

board2015

You will be hearing more from Guy very soon as we continue our long-standing dedication to a safe Midtown experience.

Community Impact Statement: Robbery Perpetrators

July 21, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 

We are calling upon the Midtown community to share their views on how robberies (and particular those that perpetrate them) adversely affect the neighborhood we call home. 

The facts of the case:

At approximately 10:25pm on July 2nd, a pedestrian robbery involving a gun occurred at Argonne & 7th. As police began to travel in that direction upon receiving the call over police radio, they spotted a vehicle matching the description of the offending vehicle. They intercepted the suspect vehicle approximately 45 seconds after the call was dispatched from radio. One of the males in the back seat had short dreadlocks as described over police radio. The officer continue following the vehicle until other police units caught up to the first officer. They then initiated a felony traffic stop at the Exxon Service Station located at 1521 Peachtree St NE. All 5 occupants were detained and placed into separate vehicles. The two victims were then brought to the scene where they positively identified one of the males, Demetrius Farrell, as the one who pointed the gun while demanding at gunpoint wallets and phones.

The suspects:

In the vehicle were five individuals (three males and two females) who were booked on armed robbery charges:

  • Demetrius Farrell, 18 years old
  • Teairra Locket, 21 years old
  • Tiamra Smith, 17 years old (charged as adult)
  • Darrell Farrell, 19 years old (no evident relation to the other Farrell given their birthdays are only four months apart)
  • A Juvenile, name withheld, 16 years old.

The four adults (or charged as such) were booked into the Fulton County jail and remain there as of this writing. The juvenile was placed into a juvenile detention facility.

Community Impact Statement:

We take the position that whoever robs any Midtowner robs all of us. Over the course of court proceedings we plan to present a community impact statement on behalf of the Midtown community. We have been inordinately afflicted with armed robberies in recent weeks, and wish for this statement to be driven by the sentiments of the Midtown community. Our goal is to incapacitate these criminals for a very long time and thereby prevent further victimization.

A community impact statement urges the sentencing judge to give serious consideration to the community detrimentally affected by the crime perpetrated by the defendant in question. It does not come into play until a conviction is established. We routinely present community impact statements as part of our court watch participation, and have found them to be effective in addressing specific criminals plaguing our neighborhood.

Call to Action:

We therefore would like to hear from folks in the neighborhood about what robberies mean to us. What does it mean to us that these individuals came into our neighborhood and placed two of our neighbors in genuine fear of their lives? What example should be set by the sentencing judge in this case, should these individuals be convicted? Please post your thoughts at the Facebook version of this post, at the Nextdoor.com version of this post, or send them to operations@midtownponce.org.

* * * *

Below are the mugshots of the suspects, followed by the full (but redacted) police report narrative in this case.

#151833071 – 300s 7th Street – 7/02/2015 – ROBBERY

[Official police report narrative (redacted)] On 7/2/15 at approximately 10:25pm I, Officer L**** and Officer P**** were patrolling in the area of 4th St NE and Piedmont Ave NE. While patrolling in the area of the above location we overheard radio advise of a pedestrian robbery involving a gun just occurred at Argonne St and 7th St. Officer P**** and I, Officer L**** then immediately began to travel in that direction. We then turned right onto 7th St from Piedmont Ave NE. While approaching Argonne St after passing Penn Ave we observed a black 4 door sedan making a right turn onto Argonne St from 7th St. We intercepted the suspect vehicle approximately 45 seconds after the call was dispatched from radio. We then proceeded behind the vehicle observing no license plate on the vehicle.

While behind the vehicle traveling North on Argonne Ave, Officer P**** stated that one of the males in the back seat had short dreadlocks as described over the radio of part of the description provided by the victim later identified as Mr. VICTIM1. Once we advised radio of what we had and our direction of travel. Sgt B**** of the Zone 5 CID office advised over radio that the description of a vehicle that was involved in several prior pedestrian robberies that occurred in the same location area was a dark colored sedan, 4 doors that appeared to resemble a compact style vehicle with three male suspects. Upon following the vehicle we awaited for another unit to arrive as the suspects were allegedly believed to be armed. Several other units arrived on scene behind me as backup as the black Saturn 4-door sedan turned right into the Exxon Service Station located at 1521 Peachtree St NE. I then initiated a felony traffic stop with my blue lights and sirens activated. Once the vehicle stopped in the parking lot I then maintained a covered position with my city issued service weapon at the low ready and gave verbal commands for the occupants to exit the vehicle.

Once all 5 occupants were detained and the vehicle was then secured we observed a dark gray revolver underneath of the passenger front seat on the floor. I then advised radio that we recovered a firearm. Officer P**** then advised Crime Scene Unit to respond to the location to process the vehicle, firearm, fingerprints and photographs. While awaiting for Crime Scene to arrive on scene we then identified all of the occupants. There were three males and two females. The driver of the vehicle identified as Mr. Gary Darrell FARRELL (Arrestee) was wearing a white t shirt with blue short style pants with short hair. Mr. Gary FARRELL provided police with a false date of birth on scene of x/xx/xxxx later to be determined as x/xx/xxxx. Mr. FARRELL was not licensed and had no valid identification on his persons. Mr. FARRELL stated they were just driving around looking for a party.

Once they were unable to locate the party, the passenger Ms. LOCKETT stated she wanted to go to a bar. The front passenger Ms. Teairra LOCKETT (Arrestee) stated on scene that she had no idea what was going on and they didn‘t do anything. The vehicle belonged to Ms. LOCKETT’s boyfriend later determined by contacting the aunt of the registered owner. The rear left passenger Mr. Demetrius Jerome FARRELL (Arrestee) was wearing a white tank top with dark blue pants rolled up to his knees with short dreadlocks. Mr. Demetrius FARRELL provided police with his ID card. The back seat middle passenger Mr. JUVENILE (Arrestee) was wearing a gray tank top with dark black jeans and short dreadlocks. Mr. JUVENILE stated that he was 16 years old and doesn’t have a valid ID card yet. The rear right passenger Ms. Tiambra SMITH (Arrestee) was wearing a green shirt with blue jean shorts. Ms. SMITH provided police with her identification card on scene. Once all the subjects were identified Inv. W**** and Sgt. B**** arrived on scene to assist with the investigation. Once the scene was secured Sgt. Poole was able to locate one of the victims Mr. VICTIM2 who was present while this offense took place. Sgt. Poole then relocated back to the Exxon service station with Mr. VICTIM2 (Victim) for a show up. Once on scene, the subjects were then taken outside of the patrol vehicles one at a time so the victim could give an accurate identification. The first male that was taken out of the vehicle was Mr. Demetrius FARRELL. The victim positively identified Mr. Demetrius FARRELL as the suspect who pointed the gun at his friend and demanded the phone and wallet. Mr. Gary FARRELL and Mr. JUVENILE were then taken out of the vehicle separately and the victim was unable to identify them as he stated that he was paying attention to Mr. Demetrius FARRELL while he had a gun pointed at him. Approximately 30 minutes later the other victim was located and transported to the Exxon station for a show up. Once arrived on scene the show up was performed in the same manner as with the other victim. Mr. VICTIM1 positively identified Mr. Demetrius FARRELL as the suspect who robbed him with a gun. The victim was unsure of the other suspects. Crime Scene arrived on scene moments later and processed the vehicle, gun and rounds for fingerprints as well as photographs. Once Crime Scene was completed a search of the vehicle was then conducted revealing a HP laptop that belongs to Atlanta Public Schools in the back seat. Also recovered [four] .22 caliber long rifle rounds on the floor behind the passenger seat. Property and evidence was then collected and later turned into police property. The vehicle was then impounded to A-Tow.

All 5 subjects were then transported to the Zone 5 CID precinct for debriefing. The two females stated that they have nothing to say and remained silent. Mr. Gary FARRELL stated that they were out driving around going to a party. Mr. Gary FARRELL also stated that he has no idea what happened and denied any involvement in this incident. Mr. Demetrius FARRELL stated to police that he will speak with police. Mr. Demetrius FARRELL stated that they were driving and they stopped to get some wings at the wing place. Mr. Demetrius FARRELL then stated they came back to pick him up from the wing place. He also stated that he was not involved with this incident. Mr. JUVENILE (Arrestee) stated that he was picked up from his home located on Flat Shoals RD. Mr. JUVENILE stated that he had no idea this incident was going to take place and he did not partake in this crime.

Based upon all of the facts discovered in this case it was determined that the suspect vehicle pulled up in the area of the robbery. The vehicle parked on 7th St NE facing west in between Argonne Ave and Durant Pl. Mr. Demetrius FARRELL exited out from the driver side rear with the firearm, approached the two victims and robbed them at gun point. Then after committing the offense he then returned back to the suspect vehicle to flee the scene. The victim observed the male get back into the dark colored sedan and then travel west on 7th St making a right turn onto Argonne Ave prior to police interception. All the suspects were then placed under arrest and interviewed. Suspects were then transported to the Fulton County Jail. Mr. JUVENILE however is a juvenile so therefore his mother was called and she arrived at the precinct to speak with police as well as consent to her son cooperating with police. Mr. JUVENILE was mirandized in the presence of his mother and stated he would consent in talking with police. Mr. JUVENILE provided 3 different conflicting statements to police during the interview. This interview was conducted at the Zone 5 CNN Center precinct with a audio recording device. Mr. JUVENILE was then taken to get finger printed and photographed by Officer P****.

I then secured the arrest warrants for the arrestees. Mr. Demetrius FARRELL was charged with Armed Robbery (16-8-41) and Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony (16-11-106). Ms. Teairra LOCKETT. Mr. Gary FARRELL, Ms. Tiambra SMITH and Mr. JUVENILE were charged with parties to a crime of Armed Robbery (16-8-41). Mr. JUVENILE was then transported to the Metro Regional Youth Detention Center.

Dangerous Criminal Released from Jail

June 30, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 
Sean Anthony Jessie robbed and beat a woman in her home

Sean Anthony Jessie robbed and beat a woman in her home

We received notification that Sean Jessie was released from jail yesterday (6/29). On 11/05/2013 he entered the home of a resident in the Penn & 8th area, robbed her, and then beat her several times her before fleeing. He had apparently watched her walk around the house and enter the basement shortly before the attack. While the victim was in her basement, he forced his way inside and robbed her. Then he grabbed her cellphone and other items, and fled. The victim sustained lacerations, was badly shaken by the attack, and was sore in the days following the attack.

Later that day police were alerted that her tracking-enabled cellphone was turned on, and they went to the location in West End. There they detained a couple individuals in close proximity to the phone. The detainees told the police they bought the phone from someone on the street. During their investigation APD identified Sean Jessie as the suspect and captured him on 11/16/13. At the time he was known to be living on the streets and frequenting homeless shelters around town. He remained in jail until 6/29/2015.

CRIMINALS UNWANTED

CRIMINALS UNWANTED

The victim attended several court hearings during all this time, and was usually accompanied by a representative from MSPA. The case was adjudicated on 6/05/2015, when Judge Schwall sentenced this dangerous offender to two years commuted to time served upon entry into Grady’s Assertive Community Treatment program, plus probation. Judge Schwall also banned him from Fulton County as a condition of probation except for doctor visits at Grady’s ACT team or visits to his mother. In all he served a little over 18 months in confinement for his brutal attack. This was far less than the 18 years that another robbery perpetrator received for an incident on 9th Street the month before. The Penn Avenue attack was his 28th booking in Fulton County. This reiterates the importance of the court watch program and makes a solid case for the implementation of a Judge Watch program to track and monitor sentencing tendencies.

In any case, he’s back out there somewhere…



MPSA PATROL: WHAT WE’VE GOT, WHAT WE NEED

June 15, 2015 · Posted in Eye on Midtown · Comments Off 
Sgt. Cooper and Sgt. McGinnis

Sgt. Cooper and Sgt. McGinnis

In response to questions asked on neighborhood social media sites, we are providing an overview of how MPSA works. We concentrate most of our patrol hours on daytime hours on weekdays, when residential burglaries most commonly occur in nearly any residential community. The patrol currently operates from 10/11am to 2/3pm on most weekdays. In any community – not just Midtown – these hours are the most vulnerable in terms of residential burglaries.

Sgt. Cooper, our patrol coordinator, also maintains rapport with property owners, APD operations, and other agencies such as Code Enforcement to keep them aware of ongoing issues that affect our neighborhood all hours of the day, and to help us mobilize resources beyond the patrol to address ongoing issues like problem properties. This “neighborhood consultant” aspect of Sgt. Cooper’s role with MPSA operation dovetails well with burglary prevention.

In the early years we focused our patrol hours on nighttime hours, when conditions were most problematic at that time. Because conditions at night improved considerably, we began shifting patrol hours to more random times so as not to neglect other issues affecting the neighborhood. Over the years we learned this approach was ineffective, at least in the longer run. So about six years ago we began to focus our patrol on daytime hours, when burglaries most commonly occur. What’s worse than having criminals roaming our streets in front of our homes is having them inside of our homes. This strategy has resulted in a 80% decrease in the number of residential burglaries.

Compared to an average of six (occasionally more) residential burglaries a month seven years earlier, we now see months go by without what we call a typical residential burglary (occurring mid-day on weekdays when most folks are at work). Most of the burglaries we are seeing now either occur in large multi-unit buildings with secured entry, or have unusual circumstances (like a drunk person crashing into someone’s home during overnight hours, or an offender in some way targeting someone they know). A comparison of burglary incidents in 2015 vs. 2008 is at the end of this article.

We continue to operate a few night and evening shifts. This patrol coverage helps to keep us abreast of what’s going on in the area, but this level of patrolling is not adequate to systematically eliminate chronic patterns. Nighttime issues include:

  • The drug culture at Ponce & Boulevard – many of these individuals prowl around the neighborhood at night looking for items, (as of late) especially bicycles, to steal and sell in order to procure street drugs;
  • Other street criminals prowling around the neighborhood at all hours of the night and breaking into cars.
  • Street prostitution and drug activity along Piedmont, Myrtle, and Juniper from Ponce to 5th Street;
  • Armed robberies, some of which involving violent circumstances, and in all cases are a step away from a homicide.

Robberies present us with a very disturbing phenomenon, and with it a need to significantly increase our night patrols. When we started MPSA in 2003 most of our robberies were perpetrated by offenders on foot. In the last few years it has become a very pronounced pattern for robbers to come and go in a car. They either appear in a car and suddenly jump out to rob the victim, or they park, scout for a victim, and quickly leave in a car once they make a hit. Because the perpetrators are in and out of the neighborhood very quickly, the probability that any police officer will be in the right spot at the right time is low. Deploying patrols five times a week during the most common times street robberies occur would increase this probability and help us considerably in reducing robberies. In addition, patrol hours at night would help us address the other aforementioned nighttime issues.

To be specific, we pulled in $72,000 in revenues for 2014. This figure came from 250-300 households, business memberships, and community sponsorships. Around 93% of the MPSA budget provided the neighborhood with daytime patrol shifts along with a few extra shifts in the evening and overnight hours, with only about 7% of the overall budget covering essential administrative expenses. Other than the patrol by off-duty & retired APD officers, all MPSA functions such as court watch, advocacy, research and reports, and collaborative efforts with other neighborhoods and agencies are handled entirely by volunteers.

Adding five late night / overnight shifts per week in order to more effectively target nighttime issues would run us around $40,000 in additional patrol and operational expenses (mainly fuel for the patrol truck). This additional $40k would have to be above and beyond existing membership saturation. This amounts to 145 additional households at $275 each, but this figure could be offset by additional business members, condo assocations, extra donations, and community sponsorships. Even if we fall short of the needed extra $40k we will expand into the overnight hours to reduce the criminal and nuisance activity occuring at those times according to budgetary considerations. The more patrol hours we can sustain, the safer our neighborhood will be.

Our patrol budget is based on membership dues – we are not like Midtown Blue, which is funded by a special property tax in the Midtown Business District. We have seen considerable improvement in the 12 years since we were founded, but much more work remains to be done to maintain and improve neighborhood safety. We encourage those who are not yet members to visit our website and join.

Burglary Trends

We leave you with some stats recently compiled from old MPSA eblasts. The first part itemizes 35 burglaries reported from October 2007 through March 2008. The next part itemizes 7 burglaries occurring during the same months seven years later, which reflects an 80% reduction in burglaries. Nearly all of the remaining burglaries are occurring outside the most common times (9am to 3pm on weekdays, when most residents are absent from any neighborhood), or involve unusual circumstances.

Supplement 1: Six month period October 2007 through March 2008 – reconstructed from archived Eye on Midtown eblasts (this period no longer available on APD crime map). 35 counts!

  • Report Date | Crime Location | Crime Type | Incident #:
  • 3/22/2008 | 900’s MYRTLE ST | BURG-NO FORCD ENTRY-RESID | 080820525
  • 3/17/2008 | 400’s 7TH ST | BURG-NO FORCD ENTRY-RESID | 080770601
  • 3/08/2008 | 700’s ARGONNE AVE | BURG-NO FORCD ENTRY-RESID | 080680623
  • 3/05/2008 | 100’s PONCE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080652108
  • 2/26/2008 | 700’s Durant Place | perpetrated by the victim’s ex-girlfriend
  • 2/12/2008 | 800s Vedado Way | Report # lost
  • 2/01/2008 | 700s Chas Allen | Report# lost
  • 1/22/2008 | 265 PONCE DE LEON AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080221285
  • 1/16/2008 | 717 PIEDMONT AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080161762
  • 1/08/2008 | 929 MYRTLE ST | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080080809
  • 1/06/2008 | 886 VEDADO WAY | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080061383
  • 1/05/2008 | 164 4TH ST | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080051628
  • 1/04/2008 | 799 PIEDMONT AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080041910
  • 1/04/2008 | 742 MONROE DR | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080041241
  • 1/03/2008 | 693 MYRTLE ST | BURG-NO FORCD ENTRY-RESID | 080031948
  • 1/03/2008 | 691 PENN AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080030071
  • 1/01/2008 | 360 PONCE DE LEON AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 080011260
  • 12/28/2007 | 791 PENN AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073620012
  • 12/28/2007 | 743 PENN AVE | ATTEMPT BURG-FORCED ENTRY-RES | 073620817
  • 12/27/2007 | 787 PENN AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073610872
  • 12/26/2007 | 742 MONROE DR | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073600876
  • 12/25/2007 | 734 CHARLES ALLEN DR | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073590967
  • 12/15/2007 | 290 8TH ST | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073491601
  • 12/13/2007 | 799 CHARLES ALLEN DR | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073471237
  • 12/10/2007 | 229 PONCE DE LEON AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073441912
  • 12/07/2007 | 840 MONROE CIR | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073411158
  • 12/05/2007 | 687 KENNESAW AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073390962
  • 11/25/2007 | 631 MYRTLE ST | BURG-NO FORCD ENTRY-RESID | 073291629
  • 11/10/2007 | 751 PIEDMONT AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073140680
  • 11/10/2007 | 855 PIEDMONT AVE | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073140560
  • 11/04/2007 | 393 7TH ST | BURG-NO FORCD ENTRY-RESID | 073081363
  • 11/01/2007 | 369 9TH ST | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073051588
  • 10/30/2007 | 759 MYRTLE ST | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 073031530
  • 10/24/2007 | 873 VEDADO WAY | BURG-NO FORCD ENTRY-RESID | 072971401
  • 10/06/2007 | 930 CHARLES ALLEN DR | BURGLARY-FORCED ENTRY-RESIDENC | 072791247

Supplement 2: Same six-month period in 2014/2015 – Pulled fresh from APD crime map during in May 2015 (and not recycled from existing MPSA reports). 7 counts = 80% decrease from same 2007/2008 period. At least some of these have been reported via the MPSA website.

  • 03/16/2015 | 250 10TH ST | #150752286
  • 01/25/2015 | 418 4TH ST | #150250445
  • 12/10/2014 | 265 PONCE DE LEON AVE | #143441953
  • 11/20/2014 | 710 MYRTLE ST | #143240007
  • 11/18/2014 | 904 CHARLES ALLEN DR | #143221641
  • 11/11/2014 | 711 ARGONNE AVE | #143150871
  • 10/07/2014 | 346 5TH ST | #142802639

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