A vigil, a $25K reward, and stepped-up APD presence in response to Patrick Cotrona’s fatal shooting

Vigil organizer: ‘We own this neighborhood, the criminals do not.’

Spurred by the May 25 fatal shooting of Patrick Cotrona, residents of East Atlanta Village will gather for a vigil this evening at the corner of May and Flat Shoals avenues—close to where Cotrona was shot.

Cotrona, a video game engineer and Georgia Tech graduate, was killed as he walked to his East Atlanta home around 10:40 p.m. He and two of his friends were returning from a local pub when a man approached them with a gun.

According to police, the man demanded money from the three friends while holding them at gunpoint, but Cotrona was shot in the abdomen before he could hand over his wallet. Then, Marcus Peden, one of Cotrona’s friends, pepper sprayed the gunman and was shot in the leg as the man backed away. The shooter fled, leaving behind Cotrona’s wallet.

Peden and Cotrona were rushed to hospitals, but Cotrona was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at Atlanta Medical Center. The third friend was unharmed.

The vigil is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. and intended to honor Cotrona and other recent victims of violent crime in southeast Atlanta.

”It was important to us to bring the community together and get the attention of our city leaders to show that we stand together and we will not accept this in our community,” said Nathan Minor, an East Atlanta resident and vigil organizer. “We own this neighborhood, the criminals do not.”

Atlanta Police Chief Georgia Turner, told the AJC Wednesday that he believes Cotrona’s murder could be linked to at least four other incidents in the area, including the May 17 shooting of Saman Balkhanian as he walked home from a Braves game on Georgia Avenue. Turner also told the AJC that gang involvement is suspected.

In an email to sent to Reynoldstown residents, APD investigator John Egbert said that there is a “strong possibility” Cotrona’s murder is related to two armed robberies in Reynoldstown that occurred roughly ten minutes before Cotrona was shot.

Police released a surveillance video from the Balkhanian shooting that showed two male suspects fleeing the scene. And yesterday Mayor Kasim Reed’s office offered a $25,000 reward for any information leading to their arrests.

“One murder in our city is one too many,” Reed said in a statement. “I plan to use all the resources available to me and the Atlanta Police Department to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice.”

As part of this promise, Reed outlined a six-point plan for how the APD will respond to violence in the area–most notably, a new police unit that will bring an additional sergeant and eight officers into Zone 6, which includes East Atlanta, Kirkwood, Grant Park, and Old Fourth Ward.

“The Atlanta Police Department takes these incidents very seriously and will continue to work aggressively to solve them,” Turner said in the statement.

The show of force has been met with open arms by residents of southeast Atlanta shaken from the three armed robberies, two homicides, and one shooting since May 17. The spike in violent crime has pulled the community and its leaders together.

“The people of East Atlanta Village are stubborn people; we’re not gonna run away. We’re going to stake out ground and do our best to move on,” said Natalyn Archibong, the Atlanta City Council member who represents District 5 which includes East Atlanta.