NATIONAL NEWS

Savannah police arrest suspect in weekend shootings that injured 11 in downtown square

May 22, 2024, 12:54 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A suspect has been arrested in connection with an outbreak of gunfire that injured 11 people last weekend at a public square in the heart of Savannah’s downtown historic district, police announced Wednesday.

William Anthony Mitchell, 20, was charged with four counts of aggravated assault as well as possessing a firearm while committing a crime, Savannah police said in a statement. It said investigators were still seeking “multiple persons of interest.”

No one was killed in the shootings late Saturday, though police said 10 people were struck by gunfire and another got hurt by glass from a shattered car window. Savannah police Chief Lenny Gunther has said an argument between two women led to multiple shooters opening fire in Ellis Square, located amid restaurants and bars in a nightlife district popular with tourists.

All the victims were treated at a local hospital and then released, police said Wednesday.

Mitchell was already facing felony charges of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute in a pending, unrelated case when he was arrested in connection with the Ellis Square shootings. Chatham County State Court records show he was released from jail after a judge granted him bond April 18.

Mitchell’s attorney, Greg Crawford, declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.

“I don’t know a whole lot about the facts yet,” Crawford said.

The violence in Ellis Square was one of five shootings in Savannah last weekend. Two people were killed, police said, and 14 were injured in total.

It was also the worst mass shooting in Georgia’s oldest city since June 2021, when someone inside a passing car fired into a crowd of people outside a Savannah apartment complex. One person was killed and seven were wounded.

Mayor Van Johnson has blamed a proliferation of guns and permissive Georgia laws that allow people to carry firearms without permits.

“Only in America, and certainly only in Georgia, do we insist that guns have nothing to do with gun violence,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday.

A Democrat and a former police officer, Johnson has supported city ordinances that he says force gun owners to act responsibly without infringing on their Second Amendment rights. Savannah’s City Council adopted a measure in April making it illegal to leave guns in unlocked cars.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, wrote to Savannah officials earlier this month saying the ordinance runs afoul of a state law that prohibits local governments from regulating gun ownership or how firearms are carried.

The mayor has insisted the local gun law will remain in effect. A lawsuit by a private citizen is pending in Chatham County Superior Court.

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This story has been updated to correct that police announced the arrest Wednesday, not Tuesday.

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