Atlanta police believe that the city’s homeless are being targeted by a cold-blooded killer. Within three days, two men who were sleeping on the street were killed after being shot numerous times.
The first victim, Dorian Jenkins, was discovered on Monday where Ralph McGill Boulevard and Courtland Street intersect, which Captain Paul Guerrucci of the Atlanta police described as a place where the city’s homeless prefer to sleep. Jenkins, whose limp caused friends to call him “Sidewinder,” was shot numerous times as he lay sleeping in the small park, located in downtown Atlanta just a few blocks from Emory University Hospital.
Just two days later, on Wednesday morning, homeless man Tommy “Can Man” Mims, 64, was discovered deceased on a sidewalk which runs beneath a railroad bridge located on Northside Drive near Whitehall Avenue. The railroad line, with its trestles and bridges, offers Atlanta’s homeless population a sort of haven against the weather and, until Monday, a safe place to sleep.
Although Mims’ body was discovered over two miles away from that of Jenkins’, police believe the cases, due to their similarities, are linked. Guerrucci noted that both murders are thought to have occurred in the evening hours, while both men were sleeping and by multiple gunshots.
Guerrucci says that the murders are the first priority for homicide detectives. He warned the public to remain vigilant in the face of somebody who appears to be targeting those who are sleeping on the streets at night. Guerrucci admitted that the police are “very concerned about that.”
There is no indication that either man was robbed or had been involved in an argument prior to their murders. Because no obvious motive for the killings has been determined, detectives are “seriously considering” the possibility that the shooter is acting out of some sort of grievance or resentment against the homeless. Although Atlanta police have stopped short of referring to their suspect as a serial killer, they fear that he is strongly compelled to kill the homeless due to having done so twice in just three days.
Police are putting the word out in order to warn Atlanta’s homeless population and advocates for the homeless that someone may be targeting those who are forced to sleep on the city’s streets. Anita Beatty with the Metropolitan Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless lamented the recent shootings by noting that circumstances are already bad for those forced to sleep in the cold, but now they also must worry about being killed at random. The task force is planning to circulate flyers throughout the city urging the homeless to be wary, to pair up and to “come inside,” adding that “nobody should sleep outside alone.” Beatty remarked that the crimes appear to be “hate crime[s]” directed at the city’s homeless, as the killer targeted two men who were bundled up against the cold and simply sleeping when they were murdered. She called the pattern “horrible” and “frightening.”
The Atlanta Police Department are seeking the help of the public to solve these crimes. Information can be phoned into Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-TIPS. A maximum reward of $2000 is being offered for tips that result in the apprehension and conviction of the suspect.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Photo of homeless man on bench by Ed Yourdon – License