Two Dead in Quadruple Shooting in Church Parking Lot During Funeral
Update: Police now say there is no evidence linking Ventress to the scene yesterday.
Updated 12 p.m. Friday
Police now say there is no evidence linking Ventress to the scene yesterday. Check back after a 1 p.m. press conference with DeKalb police.
Two people have been killed and two others injured in a Thursday afternoon shootout during a funeral in the parking lot of a Stone Mountain-area church.
DeKalb police say they have arrested several people in the shooting, but have not yet released names.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m., shots were fired during a funeral at Victory for the World Church on N. Hairston Road, according to media reports.
The 1 p.m. funeral was being held for Ryan Devon Guider, who was shot to death on May 27. His mother is a member of the church.
Police originally said the man suspected in Guider's death, Marcus Ventress, 28, may be connected to Thursday's shootings. They were even staked out at the funeral, assuming Ventress would show up. As of noon on Friday, however, they say he was not involved.
"This tragedy is another reason why people of all faiths must come together in coalition with public safety officials and elected officials to stem the rising tide of youth violence in the African American community," says Dr. Kenneth Samuel, Senior Pastor of Victory for the World Church in an official statement.
According to the Associated Press, six people were detained at the scene, but Ventress was not one of them.
DeKalb Public Safety Director William Miller, citing witnesses, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that police initially thought Ventress was among those who were shot. Police backed away from that, however. The shooting seems to stem, however, from a fight that broke out at the funeral.
Ventress is still being sought in the murder of Guider.
The AJC reported that witnesses said up to eight gun shots were fired.
Police believe Guider, 19, was killed in retaliation for burglarizing Ventress' home, during which he allegedly punched Ventress' mother.
Pastor Samuel told Stone Mountain Patch that the service had just ended when the shooting started.
"The congregation and the clergy were filing out of the building into the cars, getting ready to head to the burial site," said Samuel, who performed the eulogy for Ryan Guider.
Before people could even get to their cars, Samuel said the shots broke out.
He said people were running back into the church for cover, and someone called 911.
When DeKalb Police arrived on the scene, they locked down the campus and cordoned off the area, Samuel said.
"While I was doing the eulogy," Samuel said, "there were many young people at the funeral. I tried to tell the congregation about valuing life and their community, how fleeting and uncertain life is."
Apparently, Samuel said, some people were not listening.
"It's a tragedy we're facing here," he said, "but we'll keep preaching and trying to get that message across.”
Police have not released the identities of the shooting victims. One died at the scene will the other died on the way to the hospital.
Guider's family were able to finish the funeral at 3 p.m., but most church members were unable to attend as they were still on lockdown at the church.
Check back for updates