ATLANTA – A teen suspect has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the shooting that killed an 8-year-old Atlanta girl near the site of an earlier police shooting, officials said Wednesday.
Police issued warrants a day earlier for 19-year-old Julian Conley in the slaying of Secoriea Turner, police spokesman Anthony Grant said. Conley turned himself in Wednesday, his attorney, Jackie Patterson, said.
Patterson said Conley was peacefully protesting and witnessed the shooting but did not open fire himself, though he was armed.
“It is no doubt this comes as a shock,” he said. “Why would you want to charge a man who saw a crime but did not participate in a criminal act? Police would have a better chance at winning the lottery than getting a conviction on my client.”
News of the charges broke as mourners attended Secoriea’s funeral Wednesday at New Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. A long line of relatives and friends filed past her body as the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away” filled the church.
“If there’s ever a time that we need the Lord, we need him now,” The Rev. Gregory Sutton told mourners.
Secoriea was fatally shot on the Fourth of July while riding in an SUV with her mother and another adult near the Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, was killed by a white police officer on June 12.
Makeshift barricades had been set up in the area after Brooks was killed, and armed men had been blocking roads in the area and turning some drivers away. The SUV Secoriea was in was trying to make a U-turn at one of the barricades when at least one gunman shot into the vehicle, police said.