Alleged downtown Athens mass shooter formally charged in court


Pharoah Devonnell Williams

By Joe Johnson

The man who was arrested for allegedly shooting seven people in downtown Athens three months ago has been formally charged in Clarke County Superior Court.

In an accusation filed Thursday by Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jared Williams, 21-year-old Pharoah Devonnell Williams of Washington, GA, was charged with seven counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

The case had originally been in the hands of Deborah Gonzalez, DA for Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties in the Western Judicial Circuit, but state Attorney General Chris Carr re-assigned the case to the Augusta DA because of a conflict of interest -- a family member of one of Gonzalez's employees reportedly was among the victims of the shooting.

According to Athens-Clarke County police, the incident happened early the morning of Sept. 5, when Williams opened fire on a large group of people who were fighting in the intersection of East Clayton and North Jackson streets.

“Williams was associated with some of the involved parties that were fighting and subsequently began shooting toward the active fight," said Lt. Shaun Barnett, public information officer for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

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

Barnett said the victims ranged in age from 19 to 29, and none attended UGA. They were treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Williams surrendered at the Wilkes County Jail the day after the shooting, and since being transferred to the local jail he has been held without bail being set.

Williams is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 25.

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