COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County Sheriff's Office says a third teen received injuries in a nighttime shooting incident Friday, June 4, at Denny Dobbs Park.
And a sheriff's office spokesperson said the agency will increase its daily "presence" at the park on Georgia Hwy. 212 after the event in which two other teens also were hit by gunfire right before the park’s closing for the day.
No suspected shooters had been identified or taken into custody and no motive had been confirmed Wednesday.
The sheriff's office was encouraging anyone with information regarding the shooting to call its lead investigator at 678-625-1465, or contact the sheriff's office crime tip hotline at 678-625-5007. Callers can remain anonymous, officials said.
The victims were girls, ages 16 and 17, and a 15-year-old boy. The boy left the scene to get treatment, said spokesperson Caitlin Jett.
One girl was shot in the arm and the other in the foot and were reportedly taken to a local hospital for treatment.
No details were given about the boy's injuries following the 8:15 p.m. incident. Deputies responded soon afterward to a report of a “penetrating trauma” at 9 p.m. at a location about 10 miles away on Gross Lake Parkway and found the boy with injuries related to the park incident, Jett said.
A Covington resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Covington News her family was inside the park’s basketball court at the time of the incident when she saw three men shooting guns.
She said teens were there celebrating the last day of the school year for graduation and “going around squirting each other with squirt guns and throwing water balloons at each other, having a good time.”
The witness said she had just returned to the court when shots were fired.
She said she was unable to see a suspect’s face but saw three men shooting, including one standing out of the sunroof of a car and another standing outside of the same car.
A third stood on the back of a truck shooting from behind the car, she said.
The witness said the shooting happened around 8:15 p.m. and several people were still at the park.
According to the Newton County government website, Denny Dobbs Park is open to the public from “daylight until dusk, seven days a week,” meaning it had not yet closed before sunset at 8:42 p.m. when the shooting reportedly occurred.
The park has seen increased daytime use in recent weeks with the opening of a weekly farmers market and the county’s new SPLOST-funded Splash Pad. A skateboard park also is nearing completion on the park’s east side.
Jett said the sheriff’s office will be increasing its daily presence at the park, which is in the Oak Hill community in west Newton.
In addition, Sheriff Ezell Brown plans to discuss with the Newton County Board of Commissioners ways “to enhance public safety” at the park, Jett said.
“As always, our top priority is ensuring the safety of our community, and we want the Denny Dobbs Park to be a safe spot for families this summer and every summer thereafter,” Jett said.
Since Jan. 1, 2019, the sheriff’s office has responded to a total of seven violent or drug-related incidents at the park, she said.
Deputies responded in the two-and-a-half-year period to the Friday night “penetrating trauma” and to one sexual assault, one fight, one discharged gun, and three drug-related incidents, Jett said.
Publisher and Editor Taylor Beck contributed to this report.