On The Beat With Lt. Schoeppner

LT. SchoeppnerThe holidays are a time for happiness and celebration and I hope that is true for all of you. The holidays are also a time for reflection and remembrance.

I have seen quite a bit in my time with DeKalb P.D. I want to take a minute to tell you about a particular incident that I can’t help but think about whenever this time of year comes around.

On December 31, 2010 I was working the late shift in the major felony unit. I don’t remember it being particularly busy and the new year came and went without too much trouble. However, that all changed at 12:40 a.m.

Officers at Center Precinct had responded to a call at a small church on Covington Drive where a five-year-old boy had been injured. Marquel Peters was with his mother celebrating the new year at a church service, when a bullet came down through the ceiling and struck him on the top of the head. When we responded the young boy had been taken to the hospital and was still alive. All the witnesses could say was that the boy started crying out of the blue.

The following morning, I was notified that Marquel had died from his injuries. The autopsy revealed that the projectile was from a handgun. We had people provide us with tips and we even had an engineer analyze the trajectory to find out what direction the shot came from.

None of it panned out.

Being that it was New Year’s Eve, there were so many people shooting into the air that we would never be able to identify them all. To make matters worse, the person who actually fired the shot probably didn’t even know that they had killed someone.

I have been involved with hundreds of homicide investigations and very rarely did it ever bother me. This case is one of the few that I still think about regularly. It’s usually about this time of year when I wonder about what Marquel would be up to had this tragedy not happened. This New Year’s he would have been 12 years old.

I hope this story doesn’t dampen anyone’s holidays. It’s certainly not my intention to bring anyone down.

But Marquel Peters deserves to be remembered. And in his memory, I hope you’ll spread the word about how dangerous so-called “celebratory gunfire” can be.

 “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING” – An alert neighbor contacted DeKalb Police to complain about criminal activity they had witnessed on Oak Avenue. On December 7, Sgt. Parker and his Field Investigative Team responded to the complaint and made contact with a male and a female occupying a vehicle in the driveway of a dwelling. The result of this contact was two narcotics-related arrests, the seizure of crystal meth and other drug related items and one neighbor who made the right call to turn to us for help.

“MOTHER KNOWS BEST” – On December 10, South Precinct officers responded to a call from a concerned mother on Troutdale Drive. The complainant had located a handgun along with stolen wallets, credit cards and driver’s licenses in her 16-year-old son’s belongings. Although the complaint occurred 15 miles outside of Tucker, the resulting investigation led to the closure of five entering auto cases in the Tucker area.

“SUPER SLEUTH” – On December 14, a citizen observed three males prying open a safe. After they left, this witness decided to do some detective work. He checked the area of the safe and located a passport. He then asked around and was able to locate the victim of a burglary on Hideaway Drive. When the witness described the suspects to the victim, she recognized one of them as someone she knew. This resulted in arrest warrants being signed on the suspect.

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