ATLANTA (AP) — A prosecutor on Friday announced the indictment of two alleged gang members on charges related to the shooting death last year of an 8-year-old girl in Atlanta.
Secoriea Turner was killed July 4, 2020, while riding in an SUV with her mother and her mother’s friend near the Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, had been killed by a white police officer just weeks earlier.
“This case is the highest priority for my office,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said, calling it “one of the saddest cases I’ve seen.”
A grand jury returned a 37-count indictment against Julian Conley and Jerrion McKinney. Conley is charged with malice murder and felony murder in Secoriea’s killing, and both men face aggravated assault, gun and gang-related charges.
“We are alleging that Mr. Conley fired into the car when it failed to stop and respect their barricade, and that led to the tragic killing of Secoriea Turner,” Willis said during a news conference.
Both men had previously been arrested in connection with Secoriea’s killing and were being held without bond.
Conley, 20, was arrested last year. An attorney for Conley who no longer represents him has previously said Conley was peacefully protesting and witnessed the shooting but did not open fire himself. No new attorney for Conley was listed in online court records.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation last week announced the arrest of 23-year-old McKinney. No attorney who could comment on the charges was listed for him in online court records.
Willis said the two men were members of the Bloods street gang.
The fast food restaurant was set on fire the day after Brooks’ killing, and people protesting police brutality camped out at the site during the weeks that followed. Makeshift barricades had been set up in the area by members of the Bloods street gang who were protesting the killing of Brooks. Willis said Brooks was also a member of the gang, but lawyers for his family said they had no knowledge of such an affiliation.
Authorities said armed men had been blocking roads and turning some drivers away. As the driver of the SUV Secoriea was riding in approached the barricade, armed people began walking toward the vehicle and signaling that the driver couldn’t pass, according to officials.
“We are alleging that Mr. Conley fired into the car when it failed to stop and respect their barricade and that led to the tragic killing of Secoriea Turner,” Willis said.
Willis said both men are accused of manning the barricade and encouraging the commission of various crimes as part of their participation in the Bloods, including aiming a firearm at at least two other people in a car the same day Secoriea was killed.
L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller, attorneys for the family of Brooks, said they “have no knowledge or information regarding any alleged gang affiliation of Rayshard Brooks.”
Willis said she has video evidence that shows other people besides Conley and McKinney were involved in Secoriea’s killing, and she urged anyone with information to call her office.
The city stopped tolerating protesters occupying the Wendy’s site after Secoriea’s killing, and the charred shell of the restaurant was demolished on July 14, 2020.
Secoriea’s parents, Charmaine Turner and Secoriey Williamson, said the indictment brings them closer to justice for their daughter.
“We are thankful that at least two of the men have been captured and pray and hope that more arrests are made,” Turner said at a news conference after the charges were announced.
Turner and Williamson filed a lawsuit in June against the city and city officials. It says city leaders showed negligence in failing to remove armed vigilantes who gathered at the site along with peaceful protesters, creating a dangerous situation that led to the girl’s death.