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Gwinnett DA adds gang unit, says gang member killed officer

Gwinnett DA adds gang unit, says gang member killed officer

The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office is launching a new crimefighting unit dedicated to prosecuting suspected gang members, citing the killing of a Gwinnett police officer by an alleged gang member as evidence of a problem in the county. The existing Drug Task Force will be expanded into the Drug and Gang Task Force. The Drug Task Force’s prosecution of cases involving drug cartels have given its staff the expertise needed to focus more closely on the gangs themselves, a press release from the DA’s office said.  Three prosecutors, three investigators, a legal assistant and an electronic evidence assistant district attorney from the existing drug task force will move their focus to gangs, said Lisa Jones, chief assistant district attorney for Gwinnett County. READ | Gwinnett to honor officer killed on duty at Memorial Day ceremony “Gangs have had a presence in Gwinnett County for several years, and (District Attorney Danny) Porter is answering the complaints of the Gwinnett citizens that actually live with the threat of gangs in their neighborhoods and schools,” the DA’s office said in a press release. “Early responses to things that are seemingly innocuous like graffiti and petty theft hopefully prevent the egregious escalation to violence.” Porter will run for his seventh term as district attorney in the 2020 election. The DA’s office cited the October killing of Officer Antwan Toney as evidence of the threat of gang violence in Gwinnett. Toney, an officer with the Gwinnett County Police Department, was shot and killed when responding to the report of a suspicious vehicle near Shiloh High School.  Police identified Tafahree Maynard as the shooter.  The DA’s office said Friday that Maynard was a known leader of the gang Kutt Throat 53. Maynard was killed by police two days after Toney’s death. The man who allegedly drove the car from which the shots were fired, Isaiah Pretlow, has been charged with multiple counts of gang activity. The Gwinnett County Police Department knew Maynard was in a gang before Toney was killed and consider the death 'a homicide committed by a gang member,' said Cpl. Michele Pihera, a department spokeswoman. Porter intends the new task force to work closely with local law enforcement agencies to identify gang members, prevent gang activity and prosecute those who commit gang-related crimes, the release said. The team will utilize data and “intelligence platforms” to collect information about gangs operating across county lines, according to the DA’s office. Public training events are also planned for the future so parents, teachers and other adults can recognize when young people may be involved with gang activity.  Like Gwinnett County News on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter and InstagramStay up to the minute with breaking news on Channel 2 Action News This Morning

Homeless teen track star graduates with full scholarship to college

Homeless teen track star graduates with full scholarship to college

A Henry County high school track star just graduated with a full scholarship to college -- all while he and his mom were living out of their car. Carl Stephens, 18, just finished his senior year at Stockbridge High School where he earned multiple track records. But just weeks before graduation, Stephens and his mom found themselves evicted from their home.  Channel 2's Craig Lucie  talked with Stephens about how he managed to keep focused on finishing school and winning track meets.   'Going to school every day, not showing it, it was kind of hard. But I pushed through it, me and my mom,' Stephens said.  Stephens' mother, Vickie Reid, works in the school cafeteria and as an assistant coach. They were forced out of their home the night before a big track meet.  'They came while we were at school and set all our stuff in our yard. It hit us hard,' Stephens said. 'I still went out and ran and got one of the top spots.  Stephens has been winning ever since. He broke the school record for the triple jump and set his own.  TRENDING STORIES: Judge declares mistrial in case of ex-trooper charged in deadly crash Police: Man shot, killed woman before driving to jail to turn himself in 102-year-old woman evicted so landlord's daughter can move into home Stephens received five full scholarships by beating out the competition on the track.  As it turns out, his track talents run in the family.  'I was state and national champion, and I trained for the 1996 Olympics,' Reid said.  On Friday, Lucie was at graduation when Stephens was given a prestigious award. Principal Eric Watson said that, every year, he hands out the Principal's Award.  'It just puts a smile on my face, every time I thik about him,' Watson said. 'Students have to not only have talent, they've also shown dedication and perseverance to be successful.' This year, the award went to Stephens.  'It was one of the best days that ever happened to me,' Stephens said. 'No matter what situation, I can push to be the greatest.' In August, Stephens is headed to Jackson State University on a full scholarship. He'll compete in the triple jump and hurdles. 

Neighborhood says goodbye to beloved mailman as he retires after 35 years

Neighborhood says goodbye to beloved mailman as he retires after 35 years

A neighborhood gave its beloved mailman an unforgettable sendoff on his last route. Floyd Martin put the brakes on his 35-year career Thursday in Marietta. Martin graduated from Marietta High School in 1975 and took the postal service test a few years later. By the time they got in touch, he already had a job at a bank, but the U.S. Postal Service offered to double his pay. 'I was like, 'OK, when you do want me to start?'' he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jennifer Brett. He didn’t have the “postal pace” at first, and thought about quitting at times. It was his mom’s suggestion that he apply, and her encouragement kept him on the route. He was sad she’s no longer here, but said she would have been so touched at the hundreds of people who showed up to wish him well. “Thank you for caring about me. We’ve gone through good times and bad times together,” he said. “You were there when I needed you, even if you didn’t know it.” When Martin pulled up to deliver mail in the neighborhood Thursday, messages of love and well wishes were scattered throughout. There were mailboxes decorated with balloons, people wrote messages on the sidewalk and posters were hung in front of homes. [PHOTOS: Neighborhood says goodbye to mailman after 35 years] Lorraine Wascher was waiting for him Thursday. She's been a stop on his route for more than 20 years. 'He always had a smile, always had a wave,' she said. He's had such an impact on the neighborhood, a young girl dressed up like him for her school's career day. 'I was so flattered,' he said. 'It touched my heart.' Martin doesn't have children, just the 500 homes worth of kids he spends more than six hours with every day. 'My people are so good to me,' he said. 'I'm going to miss them.' Floyd lives in Atlanta with his dog, Gigi. He told Brett it'll be a little weird to just receive mail and not deliver it anymore. 'I'm just going to smile,' he said. As for his plans post-retirement? He hopes to go to Hawaii one day. [GoFundMe: Floyd's retirement dream trip to Hawaii] He graduated from Marietta High School in 1975 and took the postal service test a few years later. By the time they got in touch he already had a job at a bank, but the USPS offered to double his pay. 'I was like, OK when you do want me to start?' pic.twitter.com/P304AP4tAs — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 22, 2019 Lots of the 'mail' Floyd picked up today was hand-delivered. 'My people are so good to me,' he said. 'I'm going to miss them.' pic.twitter.com/e6Mi8WctZl — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 22, 2019 Floyd is a tall, slender, very fit 61. His job involves lots of walking, which keeps him in great shape. But he is done with the heat. In summertime, the mail truck is basically a rolling oven. Last summer, Floyd decided, would be his last. pic.twitter.com/8v7HtKlCcV — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 22, 2019 Floyd is the youngest of 4. It was his mom's idea for him to join the USPS. He's sad she's not here to see this send-off. Joyce Hardin's mother is on Floyd's route and said he totes her newspaper to the porch. 'Thank you for taking care of mama, after daddy passed,' she said. pic.twitter.com/8hdnKf22Xt — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 22, 2019 Floyd lives in Atlanta with his dog Gigi. It'll be a little weird to just receive mail and not deliver it anymore. 'I'm just going to smile,' he said. He doesn't have children, just the 500 houses worth of kids he spends 6+ hours with every day. He hopes to go to Hawaii one day. pic.twitter.com/W0RHdRvzgj — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 22, 2019 Update! People on Floyd's route decorated their mailboxes to surprise him on his last day pic.twitter.com/7vo8Gepv2s — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019 Once his very last shift was finally over, the neighborhood had another surprise for Mr. Floyd. 300+ people came to a covered dish block party in his honor. pic.twitter.com/8UvAclP6CA — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019 People stood in line all night for hugs and photos. Floyd's known these guys since they were babies. 'Now you guys are as tall as I am!' pic.twitter.com/yb6UwiyJtz — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019 There was a huge buffet set up with covered dishes people brought but I don't know if Floyd got a bite to eat or not .. he posed for a zillion photos! pic.twitter.com/C64KJ7Ax0d — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019 Floyd has seen his people through many of life’s changes. Some good, some bad. They’ve done the same for him. “You were there when I needed you, even if you didn’t know it.” pic.twitter.com/CAPx1nDY2H — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019 Another update! Neighbors have launched an official Go Fund Me to help Mr. Floyd realize his dream of visiting Hawaii one day. https://t.co/SPlhOXf8bW — Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019

House Republican blocks final vote on disaster aid bill until June Victims of Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters will have to wait into next month for Congress to give final approval to a $19.1 billion relief bill, as final passage of the plan in the House was blocked on Friday by a lone Republican lawmaker, forcing a delay until Congress returns for legislative business in the first week of June.   “I respectfully object,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a more conservative Republicans who stayed in town after the House had completed its legislative business on Thursday, and came to the floor Friday morning to object to acting on the plan without a full roll call vote.   The House had approved $19.1 billion in disaster aid in early May; the Senate on Thursday amended the plan with the backing of President Trump – but it wasn’t good enough to get unanimous consent for approval in the House. “If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital,” Roy said on the House floor, forcing a further delay on the disaster aid measure. One of Roy’s objections was that no money was included in the plan for the immigrant surge along the southern border - President Trump had backed off of that in order to secure a deal on Thursday. Roy’s maneuver drew the scorn of fellow Republicans from states which are need of aid - like Georgia - where farmers suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Michael. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted that “our farmers need aid today,” as this move by his GOP colleague will delay that process into June, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fellow Republicans with farmers in need of assistance.   Democrats were furious. “House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need,” Pelosi added in a statement. “This is a rotten thing to do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who noted to reporters that Roy was blocking aid for his own home state of Texas. “We should have passed this months ago,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who asked for approval of the measure on the House floor. “I am beyond fed up. This is wrong,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA).  “This bill is about helping people – not about playing Washington politics.” “Republican politicians are playing games while people’s homes are literally underwater,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).   Unless Republicans relent next week, the House would not be able to set up a vote on the disaster aid measure until the week of June 3. “There are people who are really hurting, and he’s objecting,” Shalala said.  “He’s holding hostage thousands of people.”  The House has two ‘pro forma’ meetings scheduled for next week - on Tuesday and Friday.  Republicans could object to passing the bill at those times as well.