By Joe Johnson
An Athens street gang member walked out of jail Friday after striking a plea bargain for charges that he fired a gun into an occupied apartment while shooting at rival gang members 11 months ago.
In a negotiated agreement with the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, 23-year-old Nigel Zachariah 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, Chief Judge Eric Norris sentenced Turner to 10 years, with the first 318 days to be served in confinement.
He was given credit for time already served from Aug. 31, 2020 to July 16, 2021k, or 319 days.
During the balance of his sentence, Turner is barred from Bethel Midtown Village and from having contact with other gang members.
Turner and two other purported gang members were arrested at about the same time as Turner, following a chain of events began on Aug. 9 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, according to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
Two days later, on Aug. 11, purported Piru street gang members Jaden Makale Appling and Jeremiah Rolling, both 17, and an unknown third person 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 16-year-old boy was able to escape and seek refuge in an apartment in the complex.
“After the robbery, Nigel Turner and another person unknown went to Bethel Midtown Village to retaliate on behalf of the two juveniles,” police Capt. Christopher Nichols said at the time.
“Turner and the person unknown shot firearms inside of Bethel Homes at other suspected rival gang members and one projectile struck an occupied apartment,” he said.
An accusation filed Friday by the DA’s office indicated that the apartment was occupied by a woman and her three children.
The accusation identifies 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.
Appling and Rolling were arrested Sept. 2 on warrants charging them each with robbery and violating the state Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
Both suspects are out on bond while their cases are pending in Superior Court.