Local program alternative to gang life


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – De’Angelo Burns, the south Augusta teen killed last week, went to school in south Augusta. He dropped out of school and joined a gang in the same area, according to people who knew of him and he died at a south Augusta gas station.

A local program, also located in south Augusta, could have kept him alive.

We listened more to the 911 tapes from that Friday night when he was killed. A friend called to report that Burns had been shot and was in need of medical help. For the first time we are seeing what that possible shooter looks like. He is still wanted.

A terrifying voice can be heard on a 911 tape from last Friday night. It depicts the chilling moments 17-year-old De’Angelo Burns’ friend had to get him help.

Dispatcher: 911, do you need police, fire or ambulance?

Woman: (shouting) My friend just got shot! My friend just got shot!

Dispatcher: What is the location of the emergency, ma’am? What is the exact location?

Woman: I don’t know. We’re by CVS.

Dispatcher: Which CVS, ma’am?

Dispatcher: Where are you ma’am?

Woman: We at the gas station.

Dispatcher: You’re on Peach Orchard Road? What’s the name of the gas station?

Woman: Um, Circle K.

Richmond County deputies met that caller, but it was too late.

That night, the shooting, which started on Abelia Drive, took the life of Burns. But we now know who might have taken his life. Richmond County Sheriff’s Office issued a Wanted photo of a teen believed to be involved in the murder of De’Angelo Burns.

15-year-old Jaquavious Taylor, who goes by Chunky, is considered armed and dangerous. Neighbors told NewsChannel 6 off camera the other day that Burns dropped out of school and joined a gang. So, we stopped by what could have been a better option for the south Augusta teen; the J. Hebbard Boys & Girls Club on Wheeless Road.

We spoke with Unit Director Jordan Johnson about Burns.

“It broke my heart because what we’re doing here is we’re trying to save as many young folks like that,” he said noting that the place gets many kids from south Augusta and everywhere. “We’re trying to put programs in place and create barriers and to create safe havens for kids like that.”

Johnson sees around 200 kids a day each week. As director, he works with a team to make kids feel wanted and serve as an extension to their school day and their families.

“They need to feel as though they are loved and they are,” he assured us. “That’s why young folks get involved with gangs because it’s this feeling of community.”

Johnson operates from 3-7 p.m. during the week because that’s when he said parents are usually still at work and kids are bound to get into trouble or get pregnant. The club even has open gym and mentoring programs on Saturdays. Most of all he said it’s a fun and safe space.

“We’re offering programs to address bullying. We’re offering programs to address crime. We have a program that we’re running that teaches kids how to think twice before doing something that may affect them in the long term,” Johnson said.

There are a lot of moving parts to this case. Tuesday, the Sheriff reported two deputies who responded to Burns at the gas station were disciplined. The District Attorney also announced the men will go before the Grand Jury to see whether they also could face criminal charges.

Taylor, the only known suspect at this time, is known to frequent the Dogwood Terrace and Apple Valley areas.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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