UPDATE: DA keeps criminal street gang charges against two Macon Walmart vandalism suspects

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke is keeping criminal street gang activity charges against two of the accused Walmart vandals.

During a news conference on Thursday, Cooke said he has evidence Kharron Green and Vashaun Rozier have some type of gang affiliation.

Depsite requests from the Macon NAACP and others to lower the severity of the charges on all of those who were arrested, Cooke says he feels as though the charges are accurate.

“You know I take that very seriously. A gang charge is a very serious offense with very serious consequences and sometimes it’s a very important tool to keep our community safe and make sure that the jury hears all of the relevant evidence about why someone did what they did,” Cooke said.

A sixth suspect turned himself into the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Thursday afternoon. Investigators say 20-year-old Larry White of Macon for riot and criminal damage to property in the second degree. His bond is set at $5,900.

The incident happened on Sunday, June 28th at the Walmart on Zebulon Road. Investigators say 88 teens ran through the store, knocked down merchandise, and destroyed displays. The sheriff’s office says the group caused $2,000 worth of damage.

Deputies arrested 17-year-old Kharron Green the morning of the incident. He was booked on charges of criminal damage to property, criminal street gang activity, and rioting.

After the sheriff’s office released surveillance video of the incident, four additional suspects turned themselves into the authorities. Investigators say 18-year-old Vashaun Rozier and a 16-year-old are charged with rioting, criminal street gang activity, and second degree criminal damage to property.

In a statement, Cooke said he dismissed the warrants for violation of the street gang and terrorism prevention act against Lekelvin Renfroe and Hajjmalik Renfroe. They’re still facing charges for felony criminal damage to property in the second degree and riot, which is a misdemeanor.

Cooke says arrest warrants have been issued for additional suspects.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Macon-Bibb branch of the NAACP is asking for the charges for the young people accused of vandalizing a Macon Walmart to be lowered.

Several people have been arrested for damaging about $2,000 worth of property last month. 

“To actually charge these kids with 2nd degree damage to property, a riot, and street gang activity is too severe for this type of incident,” branch president Gwynette Westbrooks says. 

She says Kharron Green, LeKelvin Renfroe, Hajj-Malik Renfroe, Vashaun Rozier, and a 16-year-old shouldn’t be facing felony charges. 

“I think to impose this type of charges, it kind of kills their future,” Westbrooks says. 

The five, along with dozens of others, are accused of running through the Walmart on Zebulon Road last month, damaging store property. 

“It’s not against the law to go into Walmart. It’s not against the law to go in two-by-two. I go into Walmart and sometimes I knock things off the shelf. So I don’t know what the crime was,” Dr. Henry Ficklin, a concerned citizen, says. 

Sheriff David Davis disagrees, saying what they did was dangerous. 

“This is a very serious thing and we need to send a message that we’re not going to tolerate that in our community,” Davis says. 

Several supporters of the NAACP and church leaders think those who were arrested need a different punishment. 

“The judge could give them a strict admonishment. Talk to them. I think that would be more helpful than setting these high bonds and messing up their future,” Rev. John Glover says. 

“Based on the evidence that we have, the charges we feel are appropriate. Our job is to find probable cause that a crime has been committed,” Davis says. 

Investigators say you a person doesn’t have to be in a gang to face criminal street gang activity charges. 

“Our judicial system is supposed to be blinded when these sentences are being handed down and I’m not seeing that,” Westbrooks says. 

“Definition of street gang activity is when two or people get together and they engage in criminal activity. There was some indication in the investigation that some of people who were arrested were participating in some gang activity. There were hand signs, information that we developed that they were possibly, probably involved in gangs,” Davis says. 

Now the NAACP says it’ll wait to see if the charges are lowered and if the charges aren’t, they’ll take action. 

“We’re going to be actually doing a protest. It’s time for Macon to wake up. It’s time for us to wake up and stand up for things that are not right in our community,” Westbrooks says. 

Sheriff Davis says the accused vandals haven’t been convicted and still have to go in front of a judge. 

No word on when, or if, the NAACP will protest.

The Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney sent us a statement on the Walmart vandalism case. David Cooke wrote,

“I take both public safety and any decision to indict under the gang statute very seriously. We will take as much time as necessary to identify the suspects and determine what charges are appropriate in each case. I can assure you that as we move forward, I will review all of the evidence and make sure any charges that are brought will be based solely on that evidence. Decisions about whether gang charges will be brought against anyone will be made after a careful review of the evidence.”

Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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