Athens police investigating possible fifth drive-by gunfire incident

Athens-Clarke County police are investigating what could be a fifth drive-by gunfire incident within two weeks. Thus far, no injuries have been reported in connection with the incidents.

Early Tuesday morning, in what could be a gang-related incident, police responded to a home on Jeffries Court off North Chase Street that was struck by gunfire. As of Thursday, investigators were still trying to determine whether the bullets were fired from a moving vehicle.

The incident does, however, have a gang-related connection, as police have said is the case with two of the other recent drive-by incidents.

The 29-year-old woman who lives in the Jefferies Court home is the girlfriend of 22-year-old Santino Deunte Luke, a member of the NBA street gang who has been involved in numerous drive-by shootings over the past three years, two of which involved fatalities.

There were, however, no indications that Luke was present during the Tuesday incident. His girlfriend told police that Luke has not been coming to her residence because of an active warrant for his arrest.

Luke was arrested Wednesday afternoon on a felony probation violation, according to Athens-Clarke County Jail records.

In recent days, after beginning the investigations into the four drive-by shootings that occurred between March 3 and March 5, Athens-Clarke County police announced that cash rewards are being offered to find those responsible for the incidents.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrests of any of the drive-by shooters. Police are asking anyone with information to call 911 or contact Detective Scott Blair at (706) 613-3888 ext. 292. Also, anonymous calls can be made to the Crime Stoppers confidential tip line at (706) 705-4665.

As was the case Tuesday, occupied homes were targeted in the four previous incidents, as was a vehicle that contained child passengers. Two of the four previous incidents occurred in the Athens Gardens apartments off Lexington Road, while a third occurred on Onyx Place and the fourth incident was reported at Stonehenge Way.

In the days since the drive-by incidents began, several known gang members have been taken off the streets for new violations as they have occurred, helping police prevent any additional violence before anyone gets seriously injured or killed, Athens-Clarke County Police Capt. Jerry Saulters, commanding officer of the police department’s Criminal Investigations Division, said earlier this week.

Additionally, having gang members in custody provides police with an opportunity to press them for any information they might have on the drive-by gunfire, Saulters said.

Follow Criminal Justice reporter Joe Johnson at www.facebook.com/JoeJohnsonABH or www.twitter.com/JoeJohnsonABH.

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