Fear lingers in Athens as shooting suspect gives up in Wilkes County

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 8:34 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON, Ga. - Even though the suspect in a shooting that wounded seven people over the weekend turned himself in, people are still shaken by what happened.

The shooting erupted in downtown Athens around 2 a.m. Sunday after a large fight broke out as large crowds celebrated a college football victory.

Pharoah Devonell Williams, 21, turned himself in at the Wilkes County Jail as police searched for him, Athens Clarke-County police said.

He’s charged with seven counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, police Lt. Shaun Barnett said.

Libby Arnold was there when it happened.

Large crowds were out late Saturday night and into the morning hours celebrating a big football win. The University of Georgia had just beaten Clemson University in the Saturday evening game.

Then the shooting broke out.

“I have never been through anything like that in my life,” she said.

“It was a terrible night. We didn’t ask for that.”

Arnold says she nearly lost three of her family members while they were leaving a restaurant on Clayton Street.

“The bullet ricocheted my son’s side,” Arnold said. “It hit him on his side. It ricocheted from my nephew in his inner thigh and then hit my daughter’s best friend.”

Arnold’s son, nephew and family friend were three of the seven people who police say were injured during the shooting.

Detectives say shortly after a fight broke out, they believe Williams walked up and started shooting.

“We dont feel like this was a random act where the general public is at risk,” Barnett said. “We think he was involved with the parties that were involved in the altercation.”

As far as business owners downtown, this coming weekend, we’re going to increase security everywhere, so families feel safe.

“We are all just lucky,” Arnold said.

Elsewhere in Georgia ...

WARNER ROBINS: A teenage girl was shot to death and four others wounded by gunfire at a Labor Day weekend party . Police say the shooting happened Saturday night, and a coroner identified the dead girl as 15-year-old Tanyla Johnson of McDonough, who had been visiting family in Warner Robins. Police say officers were sent to the area to respond to a complaint about a large party. When police arrived, shots were fired into the crowd from a vehicle leaving the area.

ATLANTA: Police are investigating a shooting that left multiple people injured outside an Atlanta nightclub. It happened early Monday outside the Marquette Club. Witness Tarell Heard said he heard at least eight gunshots as an overnight party was ending before dawn Monday and people were leaving. It was not immediately known how serious the victims’ injuries are, and few other details were immediately available.

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