Wife of man shot while jogging in Atlanta's wealthiest neighborhood Buckhead says residents are fleeing the area 'because they feel unsafe' amid growing calls for it to SECEDE from the city and get its own police force
The wife of a jogger who was shot in the wealthy Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead has claimed residents are fleeing the area 'because they feel unsafe' amid growing calls for the community to secede from the city and get its own police force.
Andrew Worrell was walking in the wealthy neighborhood around 8:35 a.m. on Saturday when he was shot twice, though he survived and has since been released from the hospital.
'Over the last 12 to 18 months it has just gotten worse and worse, and as you talk to other people that we know in the area, we just felt it creeping closer and closer into our neighborhood. So it has been felt by everybody here,' Anne Worrell said.
Some residents are even too scared to pump their gas out of fear of becoming a victim of a crime, Fox News reported.
Bill White, the CEO and chairman of a separatist group called the Buckhead City Committee, told the outlet that the group will start demanding emergency hearings in a bid to separate from Atlanta.
'Given everything that's been going on here, it's getting worse and worse and worse,' White told Fox News.
'So what we're doing because of the murders going through the roof and the attempted murders, and the lack of leadership and nothing changing – the insanity continues – is we're demanding emergency hearings on our cityhood bills.'
Andrew Worrell, a father-of-three, was out jogging on Saturday morning in Buckhead when a 'mentally ill' man shot him. Police said the suspect had also opened fire on two other people and mowed down a neighbor with his car.
Cops arrested and charged Gaelen Newsom, 22, with attempted murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of possession of a firearm during a crime in connection with the weekend crime spree.
The first shooting was in the 1200 block of West Wesley Road in Buckhead, Atlanta's richest section, which has been making a push to form its own police force and secede from the rest of the city amid skyrocketing crime rates.
Data analysis shows that Buckhead's population accounts for 20 per cent of Atlanta's population, but more than 40 per cent of the city's assessed property value.
Anne Worrell said her husband was out for his regular 3-mile morning run when she got a call at 8.40am from a stranger saying her spouse had been shot.
In a Facebook post from Saturday afternoon, Anne revealed that her husband was about a mile into his run when a car approached him.
'He thought they may be asking for directions so he stopped,' recounted the wife. 'The very tinted window rolled down and the guy pointed a gun at him and shot him, hit him in the upper thigh.
'Andrew turned to run and the guy shot him again, this one entering his left hip, hitting his ball and socket before traveling horizontally through this lower abdomen and lodging itself in his right hip area.
'The guy shot again but missed him as Andrew dove behind a tree. The guy fled. Andrew called 911 and flagged down a couple wonderful people who called me and took off their shirt and tried to stop the bleeding. They stayed with him until police, fire and paramedics arrived.'
BUCKHEAD, GEORGIA: ONE OF THE NATION'S WEALTHIEST ZIP CODES
Buckhead is known as Atlanta's commercial and residential district, famed for its high-rise buildings and shopping centers, hotels and mansions.
The neighborhood is a historically wealthy district and was once ranked the ninth richest zip code in the country with a median price of homes of $1,460,595, according to Forbes.
Bloomberg named Buckhead the 20th richest zipcode in the nation in 2011, when the average household net worth there was $1,353,189.
The average household income was $280,631.
Because of this, Buckhead is often called the 'Beverly Hills of the East/South', in reference to the upscale city in California.
Buckhead is also known to have a few notable residents, including Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler.
Loeffler was among the wealthiest members of Congress until she lost her seat in January. In 2009, she and her husband spent more than $10million on a European-style mansion named Descante in the Buckhead neighborhood.
First responders found Andrew suffering from gunshot wounds to his leg and hip. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery and remained hospitalized as of Sunday night.
His wife wrote in a Facebook update on Sunday that her husband was on IV antibiotics to avoid getting an infection from the bullets. She said he could be discharged as early as Monday.
Meanwhile, as Andrew Worrell was being taken to the hospital on Saturday morning, police received calls that two more joggers in the area had been targeted by gunfire, though neither was hit, Deputy Atlanta Police Chief Charles Hampton Jr. told news outlets. Witnesses said the shots came from a passing silver sedan.
Police found a Kia Forte that matched that description about three hours later, at 11.30am, when the car's driver ran into a man taking out the trash at the Collier Ridge Apartments complex at 1714 Noble Creek Drive.
Atlanta police said the victim, described as a man in his 20s, was seriously injured, having been pinned between the sedan and an unoccupied pickup truck. He was rushed the same hospital as Worrell for surgery.
Police arrested the driver of the car, identified as Gaelen Newsom. Inside the vehicle, they also found shell casings from fired bullets. Hampton said investigators believed the casings will match bullets fired at the joggers.
'We have information that he may have been suffering from some type of mental health crisis,' Hampton said of Newsom.
Buckhead has seen several high-profile instances of violence in recent months, including the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl in December.
The sharp increase in crime rates has prompted Buckhead's residents to form the Buckhead Exploratory Committee to create its own police force and look into the possibility of breaking away from Atlanta, after around 200 officers left the city's police force in the wake of the shooting death of black man Rayshard Brooks by a white cop in June 2020.
'Our residents are genuinely concerned for their safety and the safety of their family members,' members of the committee told the Wall Street Journal in March.
City officials have opposed the idea to separate the wealthy, largely white neighborhood from the rest of Atlanta, which is predominantly black, arguing it would siphon away much of the city's tax base and, in turn, its budget.
According to data analysis done by Atlanta Journal Constitution in April, if Buckhead were to secede, it would remove 41 per cent, or $14billion, of the assessed value of Atlanta's property, and eviscerate its budget.
Buckhead's population is 73.5 per cent white and 23.9 per cent black. This compares to the wider Atlanta population which is 50.7 per cent black and 38 per cent white, according to Data US.
Homicides were up 63 percent across Atlanta in the period running January 1 to May 23 compared to the same period last year, crime data show.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms admitted in December she doesn't know how to stop the alarming wave of violence and is 'open to suggestions.'
Rape rates skyrocketed 108 per cent, shooting incidents rose 45 per cent, robberies inched up 2 per cent and aggravated assaults jumped 29 per cent.
In terms of raw data, Atlanta had 57 murders, 302 shootings, 75 rapes, 298 robberies and 986 aggravated assaults.
Adjusting for population, a person living in Atlanta is more likely to be a victim of a serious crime, including murder and aggravated assault, than in Chicago, where crime rates are higher, reported 11Alive.