FULTON COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Three men have pleaded guilty to taking part in a Fulton County drive-by shooting at a birthday party that paralyzed a 5-year-old girl and injured a 3-year-old boy as they were playing in a bouncy house.
Officials say Demetrius Gordon, Dewon Love, and Andrevius Welch pleaded guilty before a Fulton County Superior Court Judge for the April 20, 2017 shooting on Buckhurst Drive in South Fulton.
Police say that afternoon, while 10 to 15 children were playing inside the bouncy castle, a gray Dodge Journey pulled into the driveway. According to police, Welch, who was driving, Gordon and Love were in the car. All three men were members of a street gang who had a rivalry with people attending the birthday party.
When party-goers approached the vehicle, they saw Gordon had a rifle in his lap, officials said. The Dodge then backed out of the driveway and Gordon and Love fired shots, leading to a shootout between party-goers and the car's occupants.
Two of the bullets that came from the car hit a 5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy in the bouncy house. The girl was shot through the chest and became permanently paralyzed below her waist. The boy, Lawrence Williams, now 6-years old, was permanently scarred.
FOX 5's Deidra Dukes spoke to Williams' grandmother Deanna Titus who said, " He has nightmares. Every little loud noise scares him. He doesn't know if someone is going to come and do it again."
“This must stop. When gang activity means that three and five-year-old children can’t play in a bouncy house celebrating a birthday without fear of serious injury or death, I submit gang activity has gone way beyond what should be tolerated. This must stop," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said in a statement. "I hope that these guilty pleas and sentences today will provide some semblance of closure to the families of the injured and communicate a clear message to gang members that your crimes have moved beyond the ken of reasonableness and will not be tolerated by our community.”
Gordon, Love, and Welch were charged with participation in criminal street gang activity, aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree cruelty to children, possession of a firearm during a commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of MDMA, and possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana.
Gordon and Love were sentenced to 35 years in prison to serve 15 years. Welch was sentenced to 30 years in prison to serve 15 years.