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Athens gang member shot two months after plea deal freed him from gang-related jail confinement

By Joe Johnson

An Athens gang member reportedly was shot early Sunday, two months after a plea bargain set him free from jail where he was detained for a gang-related shooting.

Athens-Clarke County police said they responded at about 12:20 p.m. Sunday, to the hospital to meet with the gunshot victim, 23-year-old gunshot victim Nigel Zachariah Turner.

Turner told police he was walking on a sidewalk along Dr. Martin Luther King Parkway near Fourth Street between 3 and 4 a.m. that morning when he encountered a male who was staring at him as he approached from the other direction, and after passing each other the other male began shooting, striking Turner in the leg, causing what police said was a non-life-threatening injury.

“Due to Turner’s gang ties, I asked him if either he or the shooter ‘had colors’” that signified gang affiliations, an officer wrote in an incident report. “He stated that he didn't but he wasn’t sure about the shooter.”

Turner said he was not willing to speak with detectives and began to dodge the officer's questions, according to the report.

The shooting happened two months after Turner pleaded guilty to a gang-related shooting in July 2020 at Bethel Midtown Village in a plea bargain that allowed him to get out of jail on probation.

According to police reports and court records, Turner and two other gang members were arrested last September, following a chain of events began on Aug. 9, 2020 with an altercation between rival gang members at the Fun Galaxy Athens skating rink on Cherokee Road, which involved two juvenile victims ages 14 and 16 but was not reported to police.

Two days later, on Aug. 11, three members of the 1831 Piru street gang saw the juveniles in the area of Cedar Shoals Drive.

They reportedly chased the juveniles, and upon catching the 14-year-old boy at 1287 Shoals Apartments, they allegedly beat him, stole his cellphone, some money, and a bandana, which police said was a “flag” that represented membership with the Red Tape Gang.

The other teen was able to escape and seek refuge in the apartment complex.

After the robbery, Turner and another person went to Bethel Midtown Village to retaliate on behalf of the two juveniles, according to police.

“Turner and the person unknown shot firearms inside of Bethel Homes at other suspected rival gang members and one projectile struck an occupied apartment,” a police official said.

An accusation filed by the DA’s office two months ago, on July 16, indicated that the apartment was occupied by a woman and her three children.

The accusation identified Turner as a member of the Rollin 20s Bloods and Red Tape gangs, and that he shot at members of the rival 1831 Piru gang.

In a negotiated agreement made that same day with the DA’s office, Turner pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and violation of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. In accordance with the plea bargain, Western Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Eric Norris sentenced Turner to 10 years, with the first 318 days to be served in confinement and the balance on probation.

He was set free that day because the plea deal gave him credit for time already served in jail from Aug. 31, 2020 to July 16, 2021, or 319 days.

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