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Accused downtown Athens shooter returned to Clarke County Jail

Pharoah Devonnell Williams

By Joe Johnson

The man accused of shooting seven people in downtown Athens Sunday morning has been transferred to the Clarke County Jail from Wilkes County where he surrendered to authorities on Monday. n

A motive has yet to be determined for why 21-year-old Pharoah Devonnell Williams of Washington opened fire at about 2 a.m. on a large group of people who were fighting in the intersection of East Clayton and North Jackson streets.

Lt. Shaun Barnett, public information officer for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, said that “we believe that (Williams) was associated with some of the people that were involved in the fight.”

The incident coincided with throngs of people who were in bars downtown as they celebrated the University of Georgia’s football team defeating Clemson University late Saturday night.

Libby Arnold told Augusta TV station WRDW that she was leaving a restaurant on East Clayton when gunfire broke out, and a single bullet injured three people who she was with.

“The bullet ricocheted my son’s side,” Arnold said. “It hit him on his side. It ricocheted from my nephew in his inner thigh and then hit my daughter’s best friend.”

According to police a total of seven people were shot and they were treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

“We aren't sure on the hospitalization status of the victims at this time,” Barnett said Tuesday morning. “As detectives continue to investigate, they will make contact with the victims and determine the extent of treatment.”

He said the victims ranged in age from 19 to 29, and none attended UGA.

After police identified Williams as the suspected shooter, warrants were issued that charged him with seven counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession pf a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to police.

He was being detained at the local jail without bail being set for the assault charges and a $10,000 bond set for the gun possession charge.

About a year earlier, in July 2020, Williams was arrested by ­Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office and charged with criminal damage to property and three counts of aggravated assault, according to The News-Reporter in Washington, which did not explain the incident for which Williams was arrested.

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