Decatur Police Alert: Armed Robbery of Three Women in Oakhurst Park Yesterday Afternoon

From Deputy Police Chief Keith Lee…

On July 2, 2013 at approximately 5:27 pm, there was an armed robbery of three women in Oakhurst Park.  The victims were in the playground area and initially observed the suspects, described as three black males in their mid to late teens, sitting on a nearby wall.

One suspect then approached the victims and went through a blanket on the ground and took a cell phone belonging to one of the victims and fled on foot toward Third Avenue.  A male witness pursued the suspect but returned back to the playground area.

A second suspect tried to talk to one of the victims and was ignored.  He then began going through a stroller bag belonging to another victim. It was reported that keys for one of the victims’ vehicle were taken from the stroller bag and subsequently a maroon Honda CRV was stolen from the parking area on Third Avenue.

The third suspect approached one of the victims, pulled out a small handgun and fired one shot, described as a pop, into the air and demanded her iPhone.  She refused and he pointed the gun at her and tried to grab the phone.  She retained her phone and verbally refused to relinquish the phone.  The remaining two suspects then fled on foot toward Third Avenue where another witness reported seeing the suspects enter a newer model red Ford Explorer and a maroon SUV and flee toward East Lake Drive.

As part of the investigation, it was determined that a Ford Explorer matching the description of the one driven by the suspects had been stolen from an Edgewood neighborhood earlier in the day.  Decatur Police have recovered evidence from the scene and are working with Atlanta Police and DeKalb Police on what appear to be related cases.   For the past several weeks, Decatur Police have used overtime assignments and reassigned staff to address increased criminal activity in the area.  Those efforts will continue and be on-going. Please report any non-emergency suspicious activity to the Decatur Police at 404-373-6551 or in the case of an immediate emergency dial 9-1-1.

73 thoughts on “Decatur Police Alert: Armed Robbery of Three Women in Oakhurst Park Yesterday Afternoon”


  1. Hope they catch these guys soon! I fear, though, they would soon be paroled and back on the street to make room for a guy selling a pound of weed…

  2. Armed robbery. B&E. Home invasion. GTA… When I was a Unit Chief for the DA in Boston, that kind of extracurricular activity would get a guy 20+ in PMITA* prison. It ain’t going to be any better for them here once they get caught.

    *see “Office Space”

    1. “For the past several weeks, Decatur Police have used overtime assignments and reassigned staff to address increased criminal activity in the area. Those efforts will continue and be on-going. Please report any non-emergency suspicious activity to the Decatur Police at 404-373-6551 or in the case of an immediate emergency dial 9-1-1.”

      1. People can only work so many hours for weeks on end in a high stress position like that. Maybe hiring many more officers solely dedicated full time to the area are what’s needed. Is there an Oakhurst satellite police station? I have no idea but maybe there should be.

        1. They closed the Oakhurst Satelite office. Folks this is my neighborhood. If we need more officers we need to hire them. In Boston they pay their taxes, much higher than ours… for those services. This is getting crazy!

          No, this is not Mayberry vs Berkeley cause they have a big police presence as well!

          If we need to pull some police from the Great Lakes area to catch these folks then so be it!

          Someone is going to get seriously hurt. Are we supposed to stop walking in Oakhurst? Going to the park?
          Are we do live like we live in New York?

          We need to wake up and realize that the numerous home invasions and person assults in the last month are numerous and can’t be blogged away!

          1. “If we need to pull some police from the Great Lakes area to catch these folks then so be it!”: as far as I know, Decatur police aren’t deployed to districts within City of Decatur. I don’t think there’s any Officers assigned to the Great Lakes only. My guess is that assignments vary by the needs of the day. There was evidently a time when Oakhurst was crime-ridden and warranted its own substation. Not sure when that was closed. I do remember around 20 years ago when friends who who were happily living on Mead moved to Winnona Park after having a child because they thought the neighborhood was a bit dangerous for a child to hang out in. But that was before gentrification really took off and urban pioneer Oakhursters started sending their kids to Oakhurst Elementary instead of private school.

          2. “If we need to pull some police from the Great Lakes area to catch these folks then so be it!”: as far as I know, Decatur police aren’t deployed to districts within City of Decatur. I don’t think there’s any Officers assigned to the Great Lakes only. My guess is that assignments vary by the needs of the day. There was evidently a time when Oakhurst was crime-ridden and warranted its own substation. Not sure when that was closed. I do remember around 20 years ago when friends who who were happily living on Mead moved to Winnona Park after having a child because they thought the neighborhood was a bit dangerous for a child to hang out in. But that was before gentrification really took off and urban pioneer Oakhursters started sending their kids to Oakhurst Elementary instead of private school.

  3. Hey, let’s not knock DPD. I constantly see them in Oakhurst especially doing patrols of Oakhurst Park. I stopped a robbery of my neighbor’s house a few months ago and DPD literally came in 2 seconds. Do I think presence needs to be increased, yes, but let’s not make this be a witch hunt for the good guys.

  4. I wonder if the weapon displayed was the same one described as a cap gun in the previous robbery attempt. If so, these folks are likely to run into an actual gun eventually. I hope Decatur PD gets them first.

    1. I don’t. They will be back on the streets in no time, especially if they are juveniles.

      Break-ins are one thing. But, a line has been crossed when these guys are pulling guns on families in a park in broad daylight. Speaking of unimaginable tragedies, what if these thugs fired a shot and accidentally shot a child? They need to be stopped for good before someone else gets hurt.

    2. I saw the Facebook post from one of the victims. She stated one of the perps “fired the pistol into the air.” Either these guys were actually armed, or a cap gun sounds like a pistol. I have no idea, but she also said he pushed the gun up to her back/shoulder blade as she tried to walk away, refusing to give him her phone and pulling it back away from him as he was grabbing it. If she belived it was a pistol, she’s incredibly brave (some may say stupid–and the police told her never to do that).
      I’m so glad she and no one else was hurt, but I’m afraid these guys might decide to find a real gun soon.
      Also I’m wondering if people fighting back and refusing to just hand over their belongings, at least when the perps aren’t actually armed, is a deterrent. Not worth the gamble to me personally, but I do like to hear about people fighting back and winning.

  5. AJC this morning reports a woman shot and killed in a home invasion on Van Vleck in East Atlanta.

    1. Jesus. What is really going on? What is it going to take to stop these savages who show no regard in the least for human life?

  6. enough is not being done- decatur police and the city itself need to step it up- no one feels safe- no one- and that’s sad.

    1. “For the past several weeks, Decatur Police have used overtime assignments and reassigned staff to address increased criminal activity in the area. Those efforts will continue and be on-going. Please report any non-emergency suspicious activity to the Decatur Police at 404-373-6551 or in the case of an immediate emergency dial 9-1-1.”

      1. And incidents haven’t stopped and actually seem to be increasing.

        We are aware of the press release. We appreciate the effort. But we want a win here.

      2. Come on, Steve. I know you’re not a paid publicist for the DPD, so you don’t need to keep parroting their press releases. One’s sense of safety is more often than not driven by emotion over reason. All the facts in the world may, at times, be insufficient when people feel vulnerable.

        Good public service requires an empathetic understanding of the people you serve. DPD is top notch and does a great job. They can continue to do so when they fully understand the prevailing sentiments in the community, even if those sentiments reflect people feeling justifiably uneasy.

        1. I reposted that paragraph because some of the “where are the police?” whiners apparent don’t read, ignore, or don’t believe what DPD publishes.

          1. Whiners?

            People’s homes are getting invaded, mugged at 5:30 in the afternoon at a t-ball game in a public park, robbed at gunpoint on their own front porch, a car jacking at 9AM in the morning in downtown decatur a block city hall and the police headquarters.

            And you’re calling them whiners?

            1. No, the people I’m calling the whiners are the ones who come on here with one line posts in the vein of “OMG, where are the police” or “the police are not doing anything” or “I don’t see any police”. They are, as I say, ignoring, not reading or not believing what the police say they are doing about the situation.

          2. It’s not whining to be curious about the efforts and progress. I know police work hard. But I also know how expensive it is to run a police department and we pay for it. So it is frustrating when I hear about friends and family being ticketed for speeding or stop sign violations (during the days and times of these worse crimes) when there are clearly bigger fish to fry. It creates a bad perception, fair or not, that will not go away until the police actually solve a crime that doesn’t involve someone paying a traffic fine.

    2. The function of any any police department is (and will always be) mainly to investigate crime after the fact. They certainly cannot be everywhere all the time. We are ultimately responsible for our own safety and protection. While I do hope DPD continues to step up their patrols, I put more onus* on the citizens of this city who have been/are so anti-gun as to create an image of defenselessness in our city to begin with. You think this would happen on this level in Decatur if they knew the populace had a large percentage of gun owners (specifically the concealed carry kind)? You want to stop this from happening? Get a gun and a concealed carry permit, get training on how to use it and USE IT! That’s how to deter crime.

      *I am not blaming the victims so please don’t even start with that silliness. I blame these disgusting human beings that are committing these crimes.

      1. Thanks for tactfully articulating what I was thinking. The criminals undoubtedly know that they are unlikely to encounter any armed resistance.

        Now, something else that needs to be said. If you see a group of young black males sitting on a wall at a park (or anyplace else that looks mildly suspicious), call the police. If you see a group of young black males that you don’t recognize slowly driving through your neighborhood, call the poiice. Is it profiling? Yes. Is it likely that some innocent teenagers or young black males will be approached by the police? Yes. It that fair? No. But, these crimes are escalating to a dangerous level. And maybe as a white male I can’t relate, but if someone called the police b/c I was, for ex., talking on a cell phone for a long, long time on a sidewalk in front of someone’s house, I, however annoyed, would thank the police for promplty responding. This has got to stop before someone gets hurt or worse.

        The facts are that these crimes are being committed by young black males, and we need to be on the lookout for people matching that description (hopefully some more specific details will be made public). Looking out for old white ladies with walkers isn’t going to stop these crimes. If there were a series of related crimes being committed by middle age soccer moms driving Prius’, I would tell you to call the police on them as well.

        1. Young black males are not exactly out of place in Decatur, so I doubt the police are going to respond to calls about them sitting in a park.

        2. “If there were a series of related crimes being committed by middle age soccer moms driving Prius’, I would tell you to call the police on them as well.”

          That’s not quite the same now, is it. Would you advise people to call the police if they saw a small group of young white men if there were several crimes committed by young white men? Oh wait, young white men commit crimes all the time. [edited: no personal attacks].

          1. And this discussion has now hit rock bottom. Didn’t take long at all.

          2. Looks like I missed some fun.

            And John, to answer your question, yes. If young white males were running in packs and commiting crimes, I would tell you to be on the lookout for them too, especially if the crimes were becoming more brazen and violent. I am sorry my list of 2 different groups wasn’t broad enough for you to understand my point.

            1. How about just calling the police on all young males? After all, crime is far more skewed to one gender than it is to one race. Visit a jail if you don’t think so. Somehow we tend to stereotype crime racially, but ignore the fact that crime is overwhelmingly a male problem, even white-collar crime.

          3. “[edited: no personal attacks].”

            So calling a white person racist is an “attack”, but calling all young black men criminals (or likely enough to be criminals that you should call the police on them) is not an attack?

            1. The comment policy states no personal attacks against other commenters. It would have been ok if you had said “your statement is racist”.

              I don’t know the answer to your question. It’s just a policy to prevent lots of “Oh yeah well you’re a…!”

        3. Sign of changing times: In the past, the white soccer Mom argument was made with them driving minivans. Now it’s made with hybrids.

          1. I deleted “SUVs” and replaced it with Prius. SUVs are so last decade (or maybe the prior decade)!

      2. This is bull. I used to live in Kennesaw – which is KNOWN nationally for it’s required gun law – and my house still got robbed when I lived there. Fortunately I wasn’t home when it happened, but let me tell you it’s no fun coming home and seeing your front door and door frame bashed in. That neighborhood had a rash of home robberies that year – in a middle class neighborhood that had not previously had crime issues. (Fortunately it resolved after about 6 months to a year.)

        Like in my old neighborhood, these are teenage kids – that don’t stop and think about “hey a bunch of people own guns here! Better not do anything bad.” No. One or 2 felt they were invincible and wouldn’t get caught. They get stuff and don’t get caught and tell their friends. Then more kids start doing it. Throw in drugs and alcohol and these kids are on a power trip.

        These things have to be stopped fast by the police or they grow exponentially. Someone shoots and kills a kid and the kids will start shooting people. Just for revenge. Let’s not turn our town into a war zone.

  7. Question: I have luckily never been directly mugged/robbed. Pickpocketed, car broken into, wallet stolen at work a few times, yes, but mugged no. My old NYC reflexes are to scream my head off, maybe even start screaming Fire! If all three victims had started screaming their heads off, would that have helped? Scared off the muggers? Others were in the park, at practices, right? I can’t really tell the sequence from the report–whether the 3 victims were robbed in sequence or at the same time. But wondering if screaming could have shortcircuited any of this.
    (Actually, my most basic NYC reflex is not to be in an urban park at all unless there’s a concert or other huge crowds. But I’ve relaxed my guard here in Mayberry meets Berkeley.)

    1. Point of clarification–the robberies occurred before the tee-ball games began. There was no one else in the park besides the victims, several witnesses and the criminals.

      And no, I don’t think shouting would have helped much. With a weapon involved, it could have intensified the situation. The whole thing was over in a matter of a minute or two.

    2. Having been mugged at knifepoint, shouting wasn’t my priority- I just wanted to and over my stuff and be on my way and them on theirs. I think screaming could have turned the situation ugly. While I still miss the ring my aunt gave me, I have zero regrets @ not putting up a fight.

  8. hey, that is really smart and i think you’re right. screaming at the top of your lungs brings the entire area into awareness of what is happening. kudos!

  9. This is rampant through-out this side of Dekalb County, basically, from I-85 back through Oakhurst. As a business owner, I am more than troubled because of the exposure and responsibility I have for my staff and the general public. And, I see no good solution from any of this.

    DCPD and DPD have been great but they are short staffed and overworked. Thanks to the drop in tax values officers are not being hired in the numbers we need to keep the City and County safe. If we want to see the crime rate go down, we need give the City and County the funds they need to fully fund their departments. Will this fix the entire problem, no, but it may give the police the support they need to keep us more safe.

  10. Seriously, we have to be able to take our kids to the park and feel safe. There was a t-ball game going on at Oakhurst Park so it was very busy there yesterday evening.

    Do not get shot of a cell phone or any material belongings…even if you lose some pictures / contacts that is better than you or a kid getting shot.

    I don’t think the answer is having more people armed in a park Walrus…that can just lead to more potential gunshots and innocent victims.

    There is a neighborhood meeting on Monday 7/8 at the Solarium at 7 pm where the Police Chief will be there to address the concerns. Everyone who is able please attend so we can raise our concerns. I understand the police are working hard but we pay way too much taxes to not be able to take our kids to the park in the daylight hours.

    1. “I don’t think the answer is having more people armed in a park Walrus…that can just lead to more potential gunshots and innocent victims”

      And I CAN get trampled by a runaway elephant in Buckhead today. Doesn’t make it probable. The statistics don’t back up your concern. I know it is not an easy concept, but it works.

    2. “address concerns” is what I don’t understand- it should be more about what they are going to do and how they will make our community feel safe again – now- and should include all city officials including the mayor! I would really hope they know what the concerns are

    3. “address concerns” is what I don’t understand- it should be more about what they are going to do and how they will make our community feel safe again – now- and should include all city officials including the mayor! I would really hope they know what the concerns are.

    4. “address concerns” is what I don’t understand- it should be more about what they are going to do and how they will make our community feel safe again and should include all city officials including the mayor! I would really hope they know what the concerns are.

      1. I think we are all on the same page Charlie – we definitely want action not just “talk” from the police department. I think there will be a very large neighborhood presence at the meeting on Monday evening to hear what actions the police are taking to deter these crimes. The more people at the meeting to “demand” action / raise concerns, the better.

  11. I’m just now learning that there was a carjacking in downtown Decatur this morning which resulted in a police chase ending in an overturned car somewhere in the S. Candler/Kirk Road area.

    We really need our Mayor and City Commissioners right now to be out and showing a little bit of outrage and give the citizens some confidence that this is going to be dealt with! Where are they?

  12. There are those of us who do have real guns. We are not all card toting NRA members, but do believe in protecting our homes and families. If these thugs are trying to scare folks with a cap pistol… This could end very badly.

    When folks can’t sit on their front porch, or walk in Oakhurst Park without fear. This is serious.

    I don’t want to bash the police, but this is 4 square miles, not Manhattan!

    I fear Decatur fights “bad” publicity at all cost. I hope they don’t wait until someone is hurt to step it up around here. In the meantime… Off to the firing range!

  13. I’m feeling defeated by the crimes. +1 on screaming for help, especially in broad daylight when there’s others around and can see/hear, but I’m fearful of taking my dogs out for their last walk just before bedtime late at night when not many are out or even awake (10pm-midnight). Do i take my phone? Do I NOT take my phone? Either one of those options seems like a mistake. My heart goes out to the victims.

  14. I think DPD is of the belief that most, if not all, of these incidents are gang related and part of initiation rites, i.e. in order to be in the gang you have to rob or burglarize.

    1. I could care less what the motive is. First and foremost, let’s catch these guys. Second, if we can’t, let’s make sure they stop coming to Decatur.

      1. I have an idea: just build an electric fence around the city with police checkpoints. That’ll keep the bad guys out. Also, we should issue Decatur ID papers and randomly stop any group of young black people and demand they “show their papers”!

        I can’t believe the crap I’m reading in these comments…

        1. What in the hell is objectionable about wanting an environment where the criminals have little fear of consequences? That is how we put a stop to this unchecked crime. In no way was I suggesting excluding anyone from the city.

    2. Motive is important. As someone who has lived in both NYC and LA, I know that gang-motivated crimes are scarier and harder to address. I was wondering why this upsurge if the economy is slowly getting better. Gangs and summer vacation/schools closed add up. Of note, crime/violence researchers have been saying for awhile that the City of Atlanta plays down its gang-related crime. Not smart, can’t be ignored.

      1. While corporate profits are up, the rich continue to get richer, and the economy as a whole is better, the personal economy for most people is not better.

        Also, as you mentioned, school is out for the summer and the DPD’s theory about gang initiation likely has merit.

        There has not been a crime spree like this in a long time and this recent spree is likely the work of 1 or 2 groups of teens. Getting pictures, descriptions, prints, DNA, etc.,. would go a long towards identifying and catching these criminals. Also, an organized neighborhood watch wouldn’t hurt.

        As for City of Decatur and DPD involvement, the DPD should have professional training on this kind of situation and working with them is our best bet.

  15. Let’s take a line from MARTA here: See something, say something. The best way to help DPD combat this is to be extra vigilant and help!

  16. I’ve never been robbed, stolen from or had my home broken into – and don’t look forward to ever having to experience any of it – so I may be a bit naive about this. However, if someone steals my iphone, couldn’t police use the ‘track my phone/find my iphone’ feature to locate/identify the perpetrators? Or are these guys tech-savvy enough to disable the feature? Provided, of course they don’t toss it soon after they got it (if these indeed are, for example, initiation rite crimes)

  17. @Hopsgirl – yes, they are savvy enough to disable the tracking if you don’t have the phone locked with a code. I learned this after mine was stolen from my car during an Oakhurst Elem. Community Circle.

    A suggestion – Add a good-quality whistle to your keychain and keep it on-hand when you are out and about. Perhaps more efficient than screaming. I do feel safer if there are more incredibly responsible, mature, and highly-trained folks safely carrying guns around the hood but that’s a pretty small population around here. The rest of us can at least be ready with whistles and camera phones.

    Anybody have a good idea on a hashtag for immediate incident reports?

  18. No one here is probably interested in the big picture, understandably, but there is a large and growing underclass that is virtually unemployable and will remain so for their entire lives. They will cycle in and out of prison, committing petty crimes or in some cases major crimes that eventually get them locked up forever. I mention this perhaps obvious fact because there seems to be an expectation here that a few thugs are responsible for this and stopping them will stop the problem. It won’t. More will take their place; more are coming along all the time. And I don’t believe it’s a partisan statement to say this is what you get when you have growing income inequality.

    1. I’d agree with some of that. Take a drive down Candler south of Memorial; or Memorial towards Columbia.

      Do we need a more comprehensive way of thinking about our larger “neighborhood?” Maybe there is such a thing underway, I don’t know. I know we covet our city limits but most residents/visitors/whoever are unaware or don’t care where Decatur begins and ends.

      Decatur is generally regarded as doing a good job with community planning/economic development. DeKalb County…not so much. (Obvious statement about incomparable size, resources, demographics, etc.)

      But I recently read about commercial area revitalization involving tax incentives and other enforcement measures being applied to major areas in DeKalb. But they left out the Candler Road and Memorial Drive corridors. What’s up with that?

      1. Be thankful you live in the CoD limits if something like this happens to you. DeKalb County response time to a 911 call about a burglary is incredible. Two hours for one, ninety minutes for the second. Only reason to call DeKalb County police is to get a case number for your insurance company.

  19. Lots of great answers here. I am in agreement with Brian C- this is a BIG economic problem. Also, Too Cool- glad you are trained/training in defense. You sound like a responsible gun owner- I hope it helps. I do think there is spillover from Atlanta, but even if the only gangs were 100’s of miles away- criminals have to go where there is easy loot. I feel for the families and dog owners who are afraid to enjoy their neighborhood parks. Oakhurst is wonderful and worth defending.

  20. “I know we covet our city limits but most residents/visitors/whoever are unaware or don’t care where Decatur begins and ends.”

    A point lost on some it seems. City of Decatur is a relatively small area where people have “stuff” but is surrounded by much larger areas where people have much less “stuff”. It’s a natural target for property crime.

  21. But the crime/murder/carjacking didn’t happen in the “City of Decatur” it happened in postal Decatur.

    Doesn’t that premise now seem quaint?

    There is no wall around our city. What happens just outside the city limits can have an impact on inside the city limits … as we are now seeing.

  22. “I am an old woman” who attended “Georgia’s Urban University” – Georgia State, many years ago and quickly learned to keep anything of importance on me. I walk with keys/phone/license/credit card or a little cash in my pockets and I don’t put everything in the same pocket, or I carry a bag with a strap that goes under one arm. This doesn’t feel inconvenient to me because it ia my habit, and I have more control over my stuff. Yet people leave expensive phones laying around, electronics in their cars, their bags in the grocery cart wide open. While we should be able to do these things, it seems unwise. One truth is that these creeps prefer the easiest targets. Small changes in your behavior may make you look a little less inviting.

    My heart goes out the all of the recent victims. We’ve been burgled and had cars broken into, and it is an incredible violation. Y’all be careful out there.

  23. The robbery in the park sounds very similar to one a few days ago at Coan Park, a few blocks outside Oakhurst in Atlanta. Teenagers rummaged thru bags or took stuff off the benches during a softball game. They were confronted and fired into the air.

    Add this to the shooting of a robbery victim at another park in Kirkwood yesterday evening – the police effort needs to cross city lines.

  24. Hey neighbors, I’m sorry for all those who have been victims of this latest string of crimes. I sympathize with a lot of the comments above, even when they contradict each other. As the neighborhood discusses the problem, I wanted to share a resource I became aware of while working at Georgia Tech. As some of you probably know, Georgia Tech students have frequently been targeted for theft, often within the Home Park neighborhood. I guess it gave some students an idea to build a technology-based neighborhood watch program. It’s called Village Defense. You can learn more about it here: http://villagedefense.com/.

    I’ve never used and have no stake in their operations. It’s just something I’ve heard positive feedback on, and I believe it’s being used by other neighborhoods in Atlanta. May be worth looking into by some of the city’s neighborhood associations.

  25. it’s worth mentioning that at dusk yesterday, as a group of my neighbors and i stood on the sidewalk discussing the crime wave, one of the three women who were robbed yesterday (and lived across the street from where we were standing) emerged from her house with her husband, and began walking to Oakhurst Village–past the park where she’s been accosted only a couple of hours earlier.

    1. that’s called “getting back on your horse”
    2. what a great example of reclaiming ownership of our neighborhood–not by cowering inside until the storm passes, but striding out into it and saying “this place is ours”.

    #truegrit

  26. I was shooting a film in Kirkwood on this same day, and our group was accosted by what were probably these same guys. Three young kids, one with a pistol, who fired into the air. Stole a purse and a car. Savages, I say.

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