The Newton County Sheriff's Office has made five arrests in connection with the shooting death of 29-year-old Kawasikis Shawnte Ricks.
Newton County Sheriff's investigator Lieutenant Bill Watterson said the shooter, a 16-year-old black male, has been charged with malice murder; with more charges pending.
Clarence Benton, 17, has been charged with felony murder, intimidation and armed robbery, Terrence Reid, 21, has been charged with party to the crime of armed robbery, felony murder and malice murder; and Brandon Hudnal, 20, has been charged with party to the crime of armed robbery with more charges pending.
Another 16-year-old has been charged with party to the crime of murder. All five suspects, who are black males, had their first appearances Thursday in court at the Newton County Judicial Center.
From interviews with the suspects and victims, the murder appears to be an armed robbery gone badly.
"From what we can determine, there was a narcotics deal set up," Watterson said. "In this transaction, they were going to purchase an amount of narcotics for a price, but there were actually no narcotics. Their intent was to rob the people that were purchasing, which is our victim."
The shooting occurred at approximately midnight Tuesday morning in the Hidden Pines subdivision. 911 received several calls of shots fired and dispatched Lieutenant Tom Kunz and Deputy Brad Verzinskie to the scene.
After speaking with witnesses, Kunz and Verzinskie walked toward the carport of 125 Hidden Pines Drive were they found Ricks' body in the front yard. In his report, Verzinskie said he immediately noticed a large pool of blood around the victim's head.
The investigation was aided by tips given to the sheriff's office the morning after the shooting.
"We had somebody come forward with some information and that just started things rolling," Watterson said. "We've had all of the Criminal Investigations Division included in this. There have been many man hours put in to get these guys into custody."
According to the investigator, the owner of the house was not connected to the incident.
"We've got everybody that was right there involved in the initial case, but we have several shoot off people that are going to be supporting," Watterson said. "We actually need two more people that are going to be on the victim's side of the case."
Ricks was with at least four other victims who ran after the shooting.
Though Watterson declined to elaborate on where and how Ricks was shot, he did contradict previously published reports which suggested Ricks was shot in the chin. Apparently, there was a wound on Ricks' chin, but it was not the entry point of the bullet.
"We're still looking for these two other witnesses and I don't want them to read about it in the newspaper," Watterson said. "We want their story independent."
Captain Mark Thomas said the murder was the fifth of the year in Newton County.
If you have any information about this incident, call the Newton County Sheriff's Office at (678) 625-1400.