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'They are in our community': Houston County DA says recent Warner Robins shootings connected to gangs

District Attorney William Kendall says both parties in all three Warner Robins homicides this week involved gang members

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Newly-appointed District Attorney William Kendall says Houston County can expect to see more officers patrolling the streets and a crackdown on gangs. This is as the city of Warner Robins responds to a spree of shootings over the past week. 

Houston County saw at least seven shootings this week. In the span of just 48 hours, three people were killed in Warner Robins. 

Friday, DA Kendall released new details during a news conference, saying a majority of the shootings this week are believed to have some sort of "criminal street gang nexus" or connection. 

"They do exist, and they are in our community," Kendall said.

DA Kendall says in each homicide this week, both parties--the victim and possible shooter--are gang members, based on their preliminary investigation. But he says his office will not release which gangs.

"I don't want to provide any fuel for an outbreak in the community," Kendall said. 

He says two of the deadly shootings are believed to be "gang motivated."

Those include the shooting at the CRU Lounge that killed 24-year-old Shamair Mitchell of Warner Robins and the shooting on Thomas Boulevard that killed recent Northside High graduate and football player Jontel Williams.

But whether this series of homicides in Warner Robins is an uptick in gang activity, DA Kendall says it's hard to say. 

"It's hard to know what previous was... with armed robbery associated with a gang member or murder or homicide associated with a gang member. I don't have that data because there was a time where those charges were not being pursued under previous administrations," Kendall said. 

He says his office is trying to change that with the newly formed Gang Task Force, created at the beginning of this year. They're collecting data about which gangs are prominent in the area and what type of gang activity is happening within county lines. 

He says the challenge is building intel on the new gangs showing up on the streets.

"There was a time when it was the Crips and the Bloods and some of the big names and gangs. We don't see that much anymore. What we're seeing is hybrid, lower level, local created gangs," Kendall said. 

DA Kendall says you can help protect yourself and your neighbors by taking your gun out of your car, and when you're home, keeping your gun stowed away and your doors locked. 

"Make no mistake, criminals will commit crimes. People will kill people. Not all things are preventable. But the police department and local law enforcement agencies and the DA's office will do our part to ensure our community is safe," Kendall said. 

Police Chief John Wagner reports seven homicides in the city so far this year.

The highest they've seen in recent years was nine homicides in 2018.

Wagner says though three of the homicides this year are believed to have a gang connection, the other four are believed to be family violence. All are believed to be isolated incidents.

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