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Bullets Fly, and Anger Rises

Something is seriously wrong when a mother and son picking up pizza have to dodge gunfire in East Cobb.

By Rebecca Quinn Mitchell

I am angry.

I mean really pissed off.

On April 5 around 7:30 p.m. a friend of mine and her son were shot at. Did you hear that? SHOT AT. And no, they didn't visit the Middle East for spring break. They were here, in East Cobb.

First of all, I’d like to tell you about my friend. We have a lot in common. We each have three kids who go to the same school. Our kids play on the same sports team. She’s also an entrepreneur and active in her community. We even have the same iPhone with pink otter cases.

She was returning from a trip and, knowing that there were no groceries in her house, stopped by on Roswell Road at the intersection of Robinson to grab something cheap and easy. Been there, done that. I probably get pizza for my kids there once a month.

She had her oldest child, age 11, with her. When they pulled up, they noticed a small coupe with young people in it, all wearing hoodies, which struck her as strange, even though the weather was a little cooler. They were listening to loud music and pretty rowdy with lots of Little Caesars Pizza trash around their car. She parked purposefully away from them, took her son and went into Little Caesars to order her pizzas.

On the way back to their car, the kids in the hoodies began yelling things at them. They questioned (very crudely) why a boy was playing with a pink phone. Guess what? My son would play with a giant pink Barbie if he could play Angry Birds on it. And why would that matter to these people anyway?

My friend and her son avoided the car and avoided making eye contact with the people who were taunting them. They hurried to their own car, a minivan, and opened up the side door so her son could sit down and she could put the pizza down.

They then heard two shots fired as her back window shattered.

She screamed at her son to get down, and they both lay, terrified, on the floor of the car. She frantically called 911 to report it. She heard tires squealing and reported the coupe's license plate to the operator. The police came and took a report.

I love the Cobb County Police Department. Truly. But this is a terrifying incident. And I sincerely hope that it is being treated as a hate crime, because that is surely what it was.

I eat lunch from the next door at least three times a week. Let’s just say they know exactly how I like my salad.

And across the street? I’m an East Cobb mom. You know I have nothing but love for you. But what are you all doing to protect us? , I’m looking at you, too. I do not plan on shopping in this area again until this incident is resolved.

Guess what else? Nobody saw anything. How original.

This beautiful mom and her young son were shot at with some kind of gun while getting into their minivan at 7:30 at night. If it could happen to them, it could happen to any one of us.

To borrow from today’s vernacular, WTF?!!!

So y'all be careful out there. And rest assured, as crazy as it might seem, this is not an urban legend. This happened to a real person I really know, a stone's throw from my son's preschool.

If you know who the victim is, keep it to yourself. This has been scary enough without worrying about someone trying to track them down. And if you have any information that could be helpful in resolving this crime, please call the Cobb police to report it.

A version of this column originally appeared as a note Rebecca Quinn Mitchell posted to her Facebook profile. We're reprinting it here with her permission.

M. Fresh April 08, 2011 at 02:31 AM
040511 1945 – 2107 hours – East Lake Drive. The window was shot out of the victim’s vehicles. An older green sports car, possible a Toyota Celica occupied by three black males (one with corn rows) was seen leaving the area.
S.P.W April 08, 2011 at 03:21 AM
I live on Johnson Ferry Road and very familiar with the area of the incident. I am so sorry that a family had to encounter that type of ignorance. Fortunately no one was hurt. I will be looking out for the vehicle in question on my daily ride. Violence is happening everywhere it is unfortunate. I have lived in East Cobb for a while the area has not changed dramatically but the times and youth respect has.
Avril Loy April 08, 2011 at 10:11 AM
Thanks Pam for your positivity! Gary, I moved to Marietta in 1991, and they already had CCT at East Lake-- that was twenty years ago! While it doesn't excuse the travesty, if this is the first incindence of overt violence East Cobb is doing well. Don't apologize for your unispired comment; it isn't even a cleverly veiled accusation. In the US, violence is pervasive. My nine year-old was verbally assaulted by someone, off of Trickum in East Cobb, with a rebel flag on their truck. Get over it, East Cobb is a melting pot--just like the rest of the country.
John Edwards April 08, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Was the comment on ethnicity intended to be descriptive or a slur? Black citizens in East Cobb deplore the violence just as much as all other citizens. They love East Cobb for the very same reasons as everyone else. Gun toters are a danger to each East Cobb resident, of every ethnicity, age, sex, and political persuasion. Let's catch the lawbreakers, not disparage an innocent group doing it.
Gary Bailey April 08, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Avril, my comments in no way were intended to be a "black / white" thing; it's unfortunate you chose to go there. I am merely speaking as a casual observer, and you are correct, East Cobb has become more of a melting pot. The veil you speak of is an obvious paranoia to which I will not entertain. Just so you know, Madame, Walton High School, being within a few miles of my home and Wheeler High School, was built in the 1970s because Wheeler had grown too large; sister schools if you will. The "dicey district" you speak of is prejudiced and uneducated. Your comments suggest you live further than a stone's throw from Cobb County Transit and Roswell Road. Pam, I agree. Viewing statistics would be a very interesting exercise. As for the "black / white" thing, don't waste my time with your insult. It's not all about you.
M. Fresh April 08, 2011 at 01:19 PM
This is the text of the police report. The police always have to describe "descriptive" the lawbreakers in order to have the community help find the lawbreakers. Pretty bold and incorrect of you to assume that this is a racial issue.
Gary Bailey April 08, 2011 at 01:30 PM
Very well spoken, Mr. Edwards, and I applaud you. I never intended my comments to be racist and it's unfortunate some individuals always want to pull that card out of their pocket.
Pam J April 08, 2011 at 01:53 PM
The more I read the article, the more I think the writer was more surprised that it happened in East Cobb than the fact that it happened at all. That doesn't make it any less horrifying to be shot at. And Gary has a point in that things have changed. Some for the good and some for the bad. If the writer had just said that her friend had been shot at in Marietta at a Pizza Inn, it probably would have worked better.
Gary Bailey April 08, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Thanks, Pam. I am very proud, at 49, to have been born and to have grown up in East Cobb. My hope is, I can still walk through the streets and frequent public areas without fear. East Cobb was and is a beautiful community and IS NO PLACE for guns or violence. Period! Enjoy the beautiful Spring; the azaleas and dogwoods were worth moving home for!
Bex April 08, 2011 at 04:28 PM
You know...I'm the one who wrote the letter. Yes, I'm surprised that it happened here. But I've also lived in south Florida (where gang violence is much more prevalent) and I would have been shocked to have it happen there, too. What I find even MORE shocking is the lack of communication from the police. Are they trying to bury this?? They reported back to some people that this is an urban legend. Ummmm...no, it's not. My friends car was towed to a shop to have a new window put in. She's literally, as I type this, on her way to the police department (with her three little kids) to pick up a copy of the report. Her son is still terrified and afraid. The description of the boys/men who shot up that street match the description my friend gave. It was the same night...it stands to reason that these are the people they should be looking for. Why are the police denying that this happened??
M. Fresh April 08, 2011 at 04:55 PM
I don't see where the police are trying to hide it. I was able to pull up the police report summary online.
Gary Bailey April 08, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Maybe our chat and comments will give this the attention it needs. If we all come together as one, you know what they say, "there is strength in numbers". I'm willing to give my time to keep this area safe and free of this type of thing.
Bex April 08, 2011 at 05:01 PM
M. Fresh, here is the quote: From Cobb County Police Department regarding rumors of a 4/5 shooting outside Little Caesar's @ Roswell and Robinson Roads: "There have been NO reports of any such incident happening at that or any other location in East Cobb. The format & content of the email suggest an urban legend." Could you share the link where the report is??
Bex April 08, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Sounds good to me, Gary!!
M. Fresh April 08, 2011 at 05:25 PM
http://p4.police.cobbcountyga.gov/ that is the precinct report for precinct 4; event occurred in beat 414 if you search for east lake you will see it. bad that they say it didn't happen when their reports say otherwise. i wonder if they were confusing which roswell/robinson road intersection (since they intersect twice).
Bex April 08, 2011 at 05:40 PM
The report you are referencing is a similar incident that happened the same night by suspects that matched my friends description. But it is not the same incident.
Wendy Parker (Editor) April 08, 2011 at 05:45 PM
We've got an inquiry into Cobb police to clarify all this because while we're hearing there was an incident report filed, only the East Lake reference mentioned above is included in the latest Precinct 4 PENS update. We'll try to untangle all this as soon as we get more details.
Bex April 08, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Thanks, Wendy. The victim does not want to be named to protect her family. But she's just returned from the Cobb police department and has a copy of her police report that accurately describes the event. I'd be happy to introduce you to her (in a private email or something) if you would like.
Wendy Parker (Editor) April 08, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Here's the information I just received from Lt. Davidson from Precinct 4. This was sent out to East Cobb homeowners associations: ---- Ladies and Gentlemen, After sending out the last email, I was contacted by the reporting officer who verified that an incident did take place outside of the Little Caesar's Pizza on Roswell Road / Robinson Road. The reporting officer is not assigned to Precinct IV so the report did not come through my office. After being reviewed by his supervisor, the report was forwarded directly to the Crimes Against Persons unit and was assigned to a detective. According to the incident report, the female and her son were walking back to their van after picking up a pizza when a group of teenagers began making obnoxious comments to her. The victim loaded her son into the van at which time the rear window of the victim's van was shot by what appeared to the reporting officer to be a BB or small pellet. The suspect vehicle then sped away. I apologize for the misunderstanding however due to the nature of the incident, the report was forwarded directly to the appropriate investigative unit. Thank you
Bex April 08, 2011 at 08:06 PM
I'm glad that they're on the same page now. Now hopefully they can focus on figuring out who the suspects are and arresting them quickly. It seems that the men who shot at my friends later that night shot at some cars parked on the side of the road. We still don't know what kind of gun it was (bb, pellet, small caliber)...hopefully this kind of thing won't continue and/or escalate. Thanks for printing my letter (and not taking it down when the police called it an Urban Legend!!).
Wendy Parker (Editor) April 08, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Still trying to get more. I'm going to explain all this in my Saturday editor's column, so stay tuned for that and further updates.
Gary Bailey April 08, 2011 at 08:20 PM
I frequent that shopping plaza, have noticed individuals "hanging out" and will pay more attention to establishments catering to (I've seen employees taking smoke breaks in these groups) or allowing loitering. I have no problem stepping in to voice my concerns with that when it comes to my safety and the safety of my community.
Pam J April 08, 2011 at 08:40 PM
I know it's hard for the "East Cobb" people to believe there are other nice areas of the county, but there is. That's what irritated me about this article. The fact that the writer (sorry Rebecca) was saying that East Cobb was too good for something like this to happen. Maybe it is, but quite frankly, it shouldn't happen anywhere.
Pam J April 08, 2011 at 08:43 PM
I do believe your friend, that this did happen. And it is awful. I hope her son is going to be alright. And if the police are not working hard to find who did it, keep pushing them. No matter where it happened, it wasn't right. Just realize that it can happen anywhere.
Bex April 08, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Pam, I never said that East Cobb was "too good" for this kind of thing. I think that maybe you're reading something into my article based on your own experiences or feelings. I would have been equally shocked and dismayed, had this happened in a bad part of Atlanta or anywhere else in the world. But probably the MOST shocking aspect (for me anyway) was the lack of communication about this. When there are dangerous people in any community, randomly targeting a woman and child, for example, I think that the police have an obligation to share that information with the rest of us so that we can make informed decisions about where we go, what we do, etc. And I think that the strip mall and Little Caesars have an obligation as well, to make sure that their patrons are reasonably safe to walk in their parking lot, regardless of whether it's on MLK Drive or Roswell Rd. It was my frustration with the lack of info about it that caused me to write what I did. I happen to have a company that does social media for other companies...so I guess it was a natural avenue for me to take. I wanted to get the word out that this happened and that the suspects have not been identified nor caught so that everyone else in the area can make informed decisions about where they go.
Gary Bailey April 08, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Bex, I agree. The strip mall AND Little Caesars both have an obligation to keep patrons safe (see my last comment). We should all feel an obligation to ensure we convey that message.
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Avril Loy April 12, 2011 at 10:09 AM
Gary, Notice I was considerate enough to immediatlety revise my posting; especially anything which may denegrate a particular neighborhood. I acknowledge being emotional; however, I never used the term race. In fact, as I previously stated, your comment about public transportation was the allusion. Secondly, it is about "me". "Me" as a tweny-year resident of East Cobb, mother of two biracial children, and frequent patron of the nail salon next to Little Ceasar's. I'm sorry your lonely and bitter.
M. Fresh April 12, 2011 at 11:02 AM
I don't understand the comment about Mr. Bailey being "lonely and bitter". Do you two know each other? With the allusion to Trickum road area being white, redneck, racists - there seems to be enough bitterness to be shared.

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