DeKalb County police are continuing their investigation and monitoring social media sites for parties and other possible large gatherings, since a shooting erupted at Wade Walker Park in Stone Mountain on Easter Sunday.
Police said more than 1,500 people were at the park when the melee broke out around 7 p.m. after police shut down an event promoted on social media as the “Big A** Cook-out.” Thousands of Instagram posts on social media show hundreds of young people smoking, dancing and partying. Trash and beer packages were strewn throughout the park.
“They did not have the proper permits to operate in the park. A police officer on duty patrolling the park noticed the large crowd, immediately pulled the plug on the DJ and started shutting down the cookout,” said DeKalb Deputy Chief Operating Officer Cedric Alexander. “This kind of behavior is chaotic and it is not going to be tolerated in DeKalb.”
Earlier that afternoon, an Easter egg hunt was held at the park, drawing hundreds of children and their families. The egg hunt, sponsored by DeKalb Commissioner Stan Watson, ended at 5 p.m. just as the cookout was getting under way.
At On Common Ground News’ deadline, police were still searching for the two men who began shooting after having a verbal altercation with another male. The pair began firing at the male who got in a car with two young women. The women, Chardonae Meeks and Mya Scott, both 19, were grazed by the bullets as the suspects opened fire. Police said the victims are believed to be from Stone Mountain and have been treated and released from Grady Hospital.
“According to witnesses, a male with the victims got into an argument with a group of people. The argument led to the shooting as police officers were shutting down the cookout and hundreds of kids were walking to their vehicles,” said Captain S.R. Fore, a spokesman for the DeKalb Police Department.
Three days after the shooting, DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and DeKalb police hosted a community forum at Wade Walker YMCA, where the park is located, to address the issue and discuss ways to avoid similar problems in the future. “
“We had great participation from the community. People shared their ideas for improvement and police officers shared with the community what they are doing to avoid this in the future,” said Barnes Sutton, whose District 4 covers parts of Stone Mountain, Lithonia, Clarkston and Avondale Estates. “We also discussed some signs to look for when approaching an event like this. We want residents to know that they are safe, the park is a safe place to have fun and this event was not sanctioned by anyone. If the cookout promoters would have taken those steps to get the permits, you wouldn’t have had an incident with any neighbors, people drinking liquor, doing drugs and dancing on top of cars and most importantly, you wouldn’t have those two shooting victims. We will all have to do our part to avoid something like this happening again in our community.”
Barnes Sutton says the county requires security guards and/or police officers, portable toilets and established section parking at sanctioned events. If none of these exists at a large event, police should be contacted.
Anyone who has any information about the shooting should call 404-577-TIPS. You can remain anonymous and information leading to a successful arrest could lead to a reward of up to $2,000.