Three shot, one dead in Wednesday shooting near Valdosta elementary school

Police announced Thursday the arrests of three people in connection to the shooting
Deadly shootout during drug deal
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 11:50 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2023 at 11:29 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - One person is dead and three people are in custody after a drug deal turned deadly shooting Wednesday afternoon in a parking lot in southeast Valdosta, according to Valdosta Police.

VPD began receiving calls just after 2 p.m. Wednesday reporting shots fired and multiple injuries, the department said in a statement posted on social media. The calls led officers to multiple spots around the city, but investigators ultimately determined they were all linked to a drug deal that turned violent at an apartment complex on Willie Houseal Drive, formerly known as Continental Drive.

It all went down in broad daylight just steps from Scott Park and about a mile from Pinevale Elementary School.

“Our condolences go out to the victim’s family, but we are extremely lucky that this reckless conduct with firearms near a park and near a school, did not result in innocent victims being injured,” Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan said in a press release.

During the deal, “multiple guns were produced, and multiple gunshots were fired,” VPD said in a statement about the shooting. It is unclear what caused the interaction to escalate, but three people were ultimately shot, and 26-year-old Elijah Davis died from his injuries. The three arrestees fled the scene of the shooting, but in the following hours officers intercepted them, according to police.

Ryeshon Young, 21, is charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. As police followed leads called into dispatchers, they first found Young inside a vehicle in the 200 block of South Troup Street with a gunshot wound to his upper leg, the press release said. He was taken to the hospital by EMS and later released.

Then, police found Malcolm Cooper, 34, and Nehemiah Ballard, 22. Cooper is facing seven charges including felony murder and aggravated assault in connection to the shooting Wednesday. He also has standing arrest warrants in Florida. Ballard is charged with one count use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug transaction.

Cooper and Ballard were driving to the hospital when officers spotted them. VPD followed their vehicle and made contact with the pair at the hospital, according to the statement.

Cooper initially gave officers a fake name and fake date of birth, according to the VPD press release. But police soon determined his true identify, and then discovered multiple warrants for him in Florida, including one for a murder charge out of Broward County. Cooper later confirmed to police that he knew about his warrant and said he had been “on the run for three years,” according to the VPD statement.

The final scene VPD uncovered was the scene of the shooting itself on the 1500 block of Willie Houseal Drive. There, police found Davis lying on the ground of the parking lot with a gunshot wound, the statement said. Officers attempted to render life-saving care, but Davis ultimately died from his injuries at the scene, according to the press release.

Cooper, Ballard and Young are all booked into the Lowndes County Jail, according to VPD.

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