Monday, Ed wrote about the death of 8-year-old Secoriea Turner in Atlanta. She was killed on July 4th after her mother drove past a roadblock set up near the burned-out Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police. Police say several people armed with AR-15s and hand guns fired at the car, striking and killing Turner. Yesterday police released a brief video clip of one of the people they consider a suspect in the case:

A police spokesman said there are probably three other suspects who were involved in the shooting. Police also answered questions about the case which brought up some claims which have been circulating on the streets. One reporter asked if there was anything to the claim that someone in the car had pulled a gun on the protesters which led to their response. The police spokesman said they have video showing that did no happen.

Another reporter asked if it was true that the car simply wound up in the middle of crossfire between two groups of armed people. The spokesman also said that wasn’t the case. The car was specifically targeted when Turner was shot.

Why did this happen?

It turns out it’s much less of a mystery than I thought. For two weeks before Turner was killed, people living in the area had been complaining about a group of people who had taken over the Wendys and, armed with guns, had set up roadblocks on University Ave.

A group of people has taken over the burned-out property of the Wendy’s on University Avenue where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed. They have refused to leave.

People who live in the neighborhood said they are no longer protesters, but people using the space for their own gain…

They said that people block the street, and sometimes will not even allow residents to pass.

“My husband literally just missed getting caught in the crossfire when he was on his way home,” said Kimberlee Jones. “And people have been shot and have been hurt.”

She lives about a mile from where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed, and said it’s been difficult to get through her neighborhood since a group of people took over the parking lot where it happened.

That link above goes to a story about two people who were previously shot (one man and one woman) while driving through this same area of University Avenue. Authorities were well aware of what was happening. In fact, the President of the Atlanta City Council tweeted images of the roadblocks on June 20 saying “tension is in the air and emotions are raw.”

And as this clip points out, the armed groups manning the blockades even stopped a City Councilwoman who was passing through the area. She complained about the situation to the interim police chief saying, “they have literally taken over the streets of University Avenue where they stand in the streets and they determine who goes in and out.”

It sounds to me like Atlanta had its own version of CHOP. Police said they were monitoring the situation from a distance but hesitated to enter the area after one of their officers were assaulted. Complaints about the situation continued until police blocked off the street and cleared away the barricades on June 24th, but that still wasn’t the end of it. On July 4th the protesters who want the site of the former Wendys to become a “peace center” held a block party.

Looking around on Twitter I came across these images also apparently from the Wendy’s posted a day after Turner was killed.

But the protesters at the scene released a statement Monday saying no one from their group had anything to do with the shooting. They called the mayor a liar:

It was only this week, after Turner’s death, that police finally entered the area and cleared out everything. As you’ll see in this clip, a member of the protest group that had taken over the Wendy’s claims they had nothing to do with it.

The obvious question is this: If it wasn’t the protesters who were blocking streets and deciding who could pass, who was it? The people who killed Turner were in the same area blocking off University Avenue for weeks but we’re supposed to believe none of the protesters at the Wendy’s knew who they were?

The only good news here is that police indicated today they have been getting lots of tips from the community about who was involved. Hopefully they’ll be able to announce some arrests soon. Still, this situation should never have been allowed to fester for so long. As was the case with CHAZ/CHOP, allowing armed groups to create a police no-go zone only ends with people getting killed. If Atlanta’s mayor had shown less tolerance and cleared the streets after the first two shootings in the same spot, Secoriea Turner might still be alive.