Teens accused of gang-related attack in Houston County

PERRY — A gang initiation spurred the attack of a Perry man out for an evening walk near his home Monday, police said.

Eartavious Cantrell Harrison, 19, and Jaron Rashad Farms, 17, both of Perry, are accused in connection with the beating of 36-year-old Jason Clem in the Tuck Road and Linden Street area about 8 p.m. Monday, Perry police Capt. Heath Dykes said.

Harrison, a fast-food restaurant cook, is charged with aggravated assault and participation in a criminal street gang activity, and Farms, a Perry High School student, is charged with party to aggravated assault and participation in criminal street gang activity, Dykes said.

Clem, who was alone, was treated for lacerations to his head, several abrasions to his face and a sprained wrist suffered in the attack, Dykes said.

Dykes said Harrison and Farms were riding around casing homes for a planned home invasion as part of a gang initiation when Clem was spotted walking down the street. Commission of a crime is typically part of a gang initiation.

“He ended up being the victim of circumstances — an easy target,” Dykes said.

The car pulled in front of Clem, and Harrison got out, claiming he needed directions to a location Clem didn’t recognize, Dykes said.

Harrison pulled out a gun and started beating Clem with it, Dykes said. Clem ran to a nearby a yard where a woman called 911. Meanwhile, his attackers fled in the car.

Clem was able to give authorities a good description of the car, which was stopped Tuesday at 5:41 p.m. by the Georgia State Patrol at W.F. Ragin near Courtney Hodges Boulevard for a seat-belt violation, authorities said.

Trooper Kevin Ford said teamwork led to the recognition of the car as the one described by Clem. Perry police stopped to help and Sgt. Chris Sutcliff recognized the car from Clem’s description, the trooper said.

A loaded pistol was found under the passenger seat where Harrison was riding, Ford said. Dabin Fountain, 17, the driver, told the trooper that Harrison was teaching him how to drive Harrison’s white four-door Saturn SL1. The trooper found three Hydrocodone pills in Fountain’s pocket.

Georgia State Patrol charged Harrison with allowing someone unlicensed to drive, possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime and violation of the seat belt law, Ford said. Fountain was charged with possession of handgun, possession of a controlled substance, possession of controlled substance not in its original container and driving while unlicensed, Ford said. Both men denied ownership of the gun. The other two people in the car were not charged, Ford said.

Farms was arrested Wednesday at the high school.

Most commonly, Perry police deal with “beat-ins,” in which potential gang members are beaten up by other gang members as part of initiation, Dykes said.

“We do have some problems with gangs in our area,” Dykes said.

A couple of unsolved armed robberies in Perry this year, including the assault of motel guest walking back from a convenience store one night earlier this year, are believed by police to be gang-related. Monday’s assault was unusual since the victim seems to have been attacked and beaten only for that purpose and not as part of another crime such as an armed robbery, Dykes said.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this happening,” said Clem, who said he was surprised to learn of gang activity in Perry.

To contact Becky Purser, call 256-9559.