Crime

200 bullets. 30 minutes. A Macon street party turned deadly during ‘Saturday of mayhem’

The red-and-black-lettered flyers circulating on social media that announced a weekend block party encouraged prospective revelers to contact its organizers to learn of the gathering’s location.

“In Theaters June 1ST: DEATH VALLEY,” declared the invites, which were designed to look like a movie poster. “6:00PM - UNTIL.”

What the flyers didn’t mention was the unforeseen gunfire.

Over the span of half an hour late Saturday, an estimated 200 bullets, in quick bursts, would fly and leave one young man dead. At least six other people were wounded. And no arrests had been made by 6:30 p.m. Monday.

On Monday, the authorities said they were half expecting more people who weren’t seriously hurt to come forward. One of the six injured reported his wounds to investigators on Monday morning.

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Bibb County sheriff’s officials displayed this image of a party invitation that was circulated on social media in the days before Saturday night’s street party in west Macon. Joe Kovac Jr. jkovac@macon.com

Saturday’s sporadic fusillade could be heard more than a mile away from where it happened on the city’s west side, in the vicinity of Log Cabin Drive where Hillcrest and Napier avenues run together. The sound of the shots echoed north and across Vineville Avenue, as far as Forest Hill Road.

The gunplay began an hour after sunset, amid a stretch houses, some vacant, on Suzanne Drive near Robinson Road. The spot lies a few blocks west of Napier. Investigators have said a crowd of 300 or more were interrupted when some people in a black Dodge Charger eased into the throng and began doing spin-outs, squealing the tires. At least one person in the crowd confronted the driver and within seconds dozens of shots were fired.

As of Monday it still wasn’t clear, at least publicly, who or how many people had guns.

Cellphone video recorded by someone in the crowd captured a 19-second burst of gunfire that included at least 75 shots. In all, the authorities said more than twice that many shots were fired. Five people were thought to have been wounded within blocks of the party.

About 30 minutes after that episode, as the wounded were taken away in ambulances and party attendees scrambled to their cars, another volley of shots split the night a quarter-mile away, at the intersection of Hillcrest and Log Cabin.

It was there that Deroderick Tawayne “Dee” Ridley, nine days shy of his 23rd birthday, was shot in the back and killed by two people in masks who pulled up in a dark-colored car. It wasn’t known if that car was the same one that cruised through the party earlier.

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Deroderick Tawayne “Dee” Ridley Contributed photo

Another man near Ridley was also wounded in that second round of gunfire.

The bloodshed there at the northern end of Log Cabin sits amid a small commercial district that includes a Beauty Kingdom variety store, a Dollar General and the Fish House II. The area is in a widely-traveled corridor that, for some, serves as a cut-through from north Macon to the shopping centers along Mercer University Drive and Eisenhower Parkway.

As rescuers rushed to attend to the victims of the first gunshots, instead of waiting for an ambulance to take Ridley to the hospital, Bibb County sheriff’s deputies hustled him into a patrol car and raced downtown to an emergency room. However, their live-saving effort, which included CPR, failed.

Officials have asked for the public’s help to identify any suspects in the shootings.

At a Monday news conference, Sheriff David Davis described the violence as “a Saturday of mayhem and destruction.”

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Bibb County Sheriff David Davis as a Monday news conference describing Saturday night’s violence in west Macon. Joe Kovac Jr. jkovac@macon.com

He called it a “shooting fest,” and later shook his head at how anyone could be so “cavalier about shooting.”

It wasn’t clear whether the party’s organizers could face charges in connection with the episodes, but the sheriff said the gathering wouldn’t likely have been a problem were it not for the car barging through the crowd.

Davis said there had been complaints about noise in the minutes before the first shooting but that before deputies could get there gunfire erupted.

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