Teenager suspected of ‘snitching’ gets killed, feds say. Eight gang members get prison

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A 17-year-old was lured to a rural road in Georgia and killed after fellow gang members suspected him of “snitching,” according to federal prosecutors.

This came after a lead gang member was arrested in connection with a nightclub shooting in 2017 and learned the victim — and also a gang member — was interviewed by law enforcement about the incident, prosecutors say. The teens were part of the 135 Pirus gang, which has origins in Compton, California and members nationwide, including in Georgia.

Cooperating with authorities, or “snitching,” is against the rules of the gang and discouraged through violence, court documents state.

Gary Terrell Davis, 36, of Cartersville is the last of the eight gang members accused of participating in the killing of the teenager to be sentenced to prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced in a Nov. 30 news release. This was in connection with his role in the killing as part of a federal RICO conspiracy.

Investigators say Davis advised other gang members on the best location for the fatal shooting of Qualeef Rhodes, according to a superseding indictment.

“The members of the 135th Street Pirus gang were willing to violently assault and kill people for the smallest perceived sign of disrespect,” FBI Atltanta Special Agent In Charge Keri Farley said in a statement.

McClatchy News contacted an attorney representing Davis for comment on Dec. 1 and has not heard back.

The gang’s leader in northwest Georgia, Maurice Antonio Kent, 32, of Cartersville — who believed Rhodes was “snitching” on him to law enforcement — was sentenced to 40 years in prison in late August, according to the news release.

Kent’s attorney Adam Hames told McClatchy News in a statement on Dec. 1 that his client denies any involvement in the teen’s death.

The nightclub shooting

The sentencing of the eight gang members stems from the early hours of May 13, 2017, when an argument broke out between the 135 Pirus gang and “a rival gang member” outside of a nightclub in Brookhaven, according to the release. Brookhaven is 11 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta.

Prosecutors say Kent, while the 135 Pirus gang’s leader, began shooting toward a crowd of people and his bullets struck the rival gang member and a club security guard.

At the time, Rhodes was outside the nightclub when the gunfire erupted, according to the superseding indictment. The violence resulted in Kent’s arrest by authorities after he tried fleeing, prosecutors say.

At a hearing, Kent and others learned Rhodes had broken the gang’s rules and spoke with authorities about the shooting, the indictment states.

“Two days later, 135 Pirus gang members devised a plan to lure the teenager to Bartow County,” the release says.

Hames, Kent’s attorney, maintains Kent was innocent because he was detained in a DeKalb County jail cell when Rhodes was killed, according to his statement. He also told McClatchy News that Kent denies shooting anyone at the Brookhaven nightclub.

The killing of Rhodes

After 135 Pirus gang members consulted with Davis, the most recently sentenced defendant, they decided to kill Rhodes in a rural area near a drug dealer’s home, the indictment states.

On June 3, 2017, Rhodes believed he was joining his fellow gang members to commit a robbery, according to the indictment. But this was just a “trick.”

As the group was riding together in a truck, one gang member, Jamel Hughes, said he felt like he needed to throw up, according to the indictment. Another gang member pulled over, and Hughes pretended to bend over and puke.

At the time, Rhodes got out of the truck to pee when Hughes shot him in the head, the indictment states. Then, another gang member, Cedric Sams, Jr. shot Rhodes several more times, the indictment states.

Rhodes’ body was abandoned along the rural road, according to the release.

Weeks after the murder, Rhodes’ distraught mother pleaded for her son’s killer to come forward, according to her interview with WXIA-TV.

“They took my baby life and left him out there for no reason,” she told the TV station.

The sentencing

Hughes, 28, of Atlanta, who authorities say first shot Rhodes, was sentenced to 26 years and two months in prison after pleading guilty to charges in the teen’s death, according to the release.

Sams, 30, of Cartersville, who authorities say also shot Rhodes, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to similar charges, the release says.

McClatchy News contacted Hughes and Sams’ attorneys for comment on Dec. 1 and didn’t immediately receive a response.

Other 135 Pirus gang members sentenced in the killing, according to prosecutors, include:

  • Kent’s twin brother, Michael Kent, 32, of Atlanta, who was sentenced to 2 years in prison after pleading guilty to RICO conspiracy.

  • Jennifer Foutz, 30, of Acworth, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting murder and other charges.

  • Christopher Nwanjoku, 30, another 135 Pirus leader of Lawrenceville, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to RICO conspiracy.

  • DaSean Dorey, of Decatur, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting murder in aid of racketeering and other charges.

Foutz’s attorney declined a request for comment from McClatchy News.

McClatchy News contacted attorneys representing Michael Kent and Nwanjoku for comment on Dec. 1. Attorney contact information for Dorey was not immediately available.

“The pain and fear these defendants caused through their senseless violence has forever altered the lives of the victims, the victims’ families, and the witnesses brave enough to assist investigators,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement.

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