Downtown Athens mass shooting case re-assigned to outside DA's office due to conflict


Pharoah Devonnell Williams

By Joe Johnson

The Georgia attorney general this week transferred to an outside district attorney’s office prosecution of the case of a man who injured seven people two months ago when he fired a gun into a crowd of people in downtown Athens.

In an Administrative Order filed Wednesday in Clarke County Superior Court, AG Christopher Carr assigned prosecution of the case to the Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jared Williams, or his designee.

The case had been in the hands of Deborah Gonzalez, DA for Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties in the Western Judicial Circuit.

Carr’s order did not explain the reason for the case being transferred.

“The issue in this case was that a family member of an employee of the DA’s office was among the victims of this incident, which presented a conflict,” said Gonzalez’s spokesperson David Lyle.

The case involves 21-year-old Pharoah Devonnell Williams of Washington, who Athens-Clarke County police said opened fire on a large group of people who were fighting in the intersection of East Clayton and North Jackson streets early the morning of Sept. 5.

“Williams was associated with some of the involved parties that were fighting and subsequently began shooting toward the active fight. What led to the fight has not been confirmed and is still under investigation, said Lt. Shaun Barnett, public information officer for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

The incident coincided with throngs of people who 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 was arrested on seven counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession pf a firearm during the commission of a felony.

He has been detained at the county jail since his arrest on Sept. 6.

Williams’ case will be presented on an undetermined date to a Clarke County grand jury by an Augusta Circuit prosecutor.


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