The violent crimes unit at the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office has so far had about half the workload that it did this time last year.
There have been seven homicides in Macon during the first half of 2016 compared to 12 slayings in the first six months of 2015.
The slower pace of killings isn’t reflective of those that may occur over the next six months, Lt. Shermaine Jones.
“We could put all kind of different algorithms to it and say, ‘This is going to make this happen,’” Jones said. “But murder is one of those things that, in law enforcement, we never know what’s going to make somebody tick, if you know what I mean. There’s superstitions and investigators thoughts, at best, but nothing that we can put to it to say how it’s going to end up.”
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Arrests have been made in connection with five of this year’s seven killings.
The fatal shooting of Jibri Bryan, a 23-year-old Mercer University basketball player, on Feb. 2 was the city’s first killing of the year.
Bryan was behind the wheel of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo at the Flash Foods mart on the corner of College and Forsyth streets in downtown Macon when he was shot to death.
It wasn’t long before authorities arrested Jarvis Miller, 24, and 34-year-old Damion Deray Henderson in connection with the killing. Miller testified in court that Henderson tried to sell Bryan fake Xanax that afternoon, and when Bryan realized the pills weren’t genuine, he refused to buy them. Hundreds attended a vigil in his honor at Mercer University.
On Feb. 23, 57-year-old Harry Lee Williams was fatally shot at a house in the 2300 block of Joseph Waller Drive, near Bowden Golf Course on Macon’s east side. A family member called 911 after finding Williams unconscious. He’d been shot in the chest.
A little more than a week later, the victim’s brother and roommate, 62-year-old Alton Williams, was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the killing. The motive was unclear.
“The whole case started out on a lie,” Jones said. “It just took good detective work. ... Evidence can’t lie.”
On March 18, 23-year-old Tarus Fair was fatally shot in the 400 block of Cynthia Avenue, just south of downtown Macon. Two men fired shots at each other after an argument, and Fair, an apparent bystander, was killed in the crossfire. The two men were arrested the next day and charged with murder, but recently charges were dropped for one of the men after witnesses came forward and confirmed he shot in self defense, Jones said.
Quintavious Hutchings, 23, remained in jail without bond on a felony murder charge in connection with Fair’s death.
On April 23, Ebenezer Baptist Church Pastor Brandon Parker, grandson of music legend Otis Redding, was fatally shot in the neck at 739 Grosso Ave., just east of Henderson Stadium in Unionville. Tracia Hubbard, Parker’s 48-year-old girlfriend, was arrested the same day and charged with murder. The early morning killing happened after the two had reportedly argued at a downtown bar. A family member told The Telegraph there had been a history of domestic violence between the two.
The victim of one killing this year hasn’t yet been identified.
On May 12, the badly decomposed body of an unidentified biracial female was discovered lying in high grass in an empty field in a rural, southern part of the county. Someone checking property on Feagin Road for illegal dumping that afternoon found the unrecognizable remains and called police. The coroner’s office reported that the woman died from at least one gunshot wound to her head.
The woman’s body has been sent to the state crime lab for more stringent testing to determine her identity.
Meanwhile, Jones said investigators have been chasing down leads and fielding calls from people who suspect the woman is their loved one.
On June 18, 40-year-old store clerk Prakash Patel was fatally shot in the chest during a stickup of the Gary Food Mart at 3306 Bloomfield Road. The two gunmen, who wore black hoodies and bandannas over their faces, have not yet been identified. Hundreds gathered at the Sunoco gas station for a vigil in Patel’s honor.
On June 21, 34-year-old Tyrell Jordan was fatally shot in his shoulder and torso at his girlfriend’s place at Sandy Springs Apartments at 3044 Bloomfield Drive. Jordan's girlfriend returned from the store and found him wounded about 3 a.m. Jordan underwent surgery at the Medical Center before he died.
A witness spotted Frederick Lydell Johnson Jr., 29, at the apartments. Johnson surrendered to deputies 12 hours later and faces charges including murder.
Of the 28 homicides in Bibb County in 2015, arrests have been made in all but one.
On March 8, 2015, a neighbor found 63-year-old Thomas Knighton dead in his home at 967 Elder St.
Knighton had been stabbed in his neck. Jones said just because there hasn’t been an arrest does not mean that the crime hasn’t been solved.
“It’s just a matter of putting the puzzle pieces together,” Jones said.
Jones said he’s aware of the perception that Macon has a high rate of killings, but said that’s due to most people not knowing that such ratings are based on the killings per capita.
“Macon’s not as bad as you think,” Jones said. “We’re like most cities. In law enforcement, you try to be proactive, but when it comes to violent crimes, it’s reactive for the most part. We can’t predict murders. If we could predict them, we’d prevent them.”