Hampton, Georgia – Four members of Atlanta’s White community were gunned down in a mass shooting this weekend after a Black man broke into their homes and fatally shot them in broad daylight. The killings would prove to be just one of 387 mass shootings that have ripped across the United States in 2023 so far, according to data maintained by the Gun Violence Archive.
On Saturday, a violent shooting spree erupted inside a subdivision of Hampton, a neighborhood about 30 miles south of the city of Atlanta. In the aftermath of the brazen attack, law enforcement issued a city-wide manhunt for 40-year-old US Army Veteran, Andre Longmore, a criminal who police say shot and killed three men and one woman—all White—at around 10:45 am. Longmore—who was Black—was believed to be a neighbor of the victims, breaking into each of their homes and shooting them dead before fleeing the crime scene in one of the victim’s vehicles.
The manhunt raged for roughly 24 hours as Longmore evaded authorities, wanted on four counts of murder in connection to the slayings. Hampton Police Department Chief James Turner later identified the victims Sunday as Scott Leavitt, 67, and his wife Shirley, 66; Steve Blizzard, 65; and Ronald Jeffers, 66. During the manhunt, Turner warned residents that Longmore was believed to be armed and dangerous and urged residents to be on the lookout for a stolen Black GMC Arcadia SUV.
“Wherever you are, we will hunt you down in whatever hole you may be residing in and bring you into custody. Period,” said Turner during a press conference on Saturday. Hampton police were assisted by elements of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and various other agencies. At the time of publication, authorities were still struggling to uncover a motive.
The manhunt finally came to a conclusion on Sunday when Police tracked Longmore to an area in Clayton County, north of Hampton. According to reports, Police then engaged in a running firefight with Longmore, exchanging gunfire across two different cities. Longmore was ultimately shot and killed as officers attempted to take him into custody.
According to a Police spokesman, the confrontation resulted in three Police injuries, with one officer requiring a helicopter evacuation after being struck in the back. The officers reportedly survived and their conditions were listed as stable and alert. “The suspect returned fire and hit the ground running,” said Henry County Sheriff Reginald Scandrett in a news conference Sunday. “We gave chase, reengaged the suspect. He produced a handgun again. Gunfire was exchanged. The suspect was neutralized.”
While Longmore’s reign of violent Black terror is finally over, for some, the damage is already done. On Monday, hundreds gathered to memorialize the four White victims at an emotional candlelight vigil. Attended by friends and family of the deceased, the event was filled with tearful songs in remembrance.
“When we came yesterday, we had no idea that tragedy would befall this tranquil and peaceful community,” said Hampton City Manager Alex Cohil. “Yesterday will certainly go down as one of the saddest in the 150-year history of this city.”
“I’m not going to say it makes me uneasy, but it does drive home that this kind of thing could happen anywhere,” said Kevin Pugh, a neighbor of the Leavitts in an interview with the Associated Press. “Up until Saturday, the most ruckus we had was the Canadian geese.”
Erin Leavitt, a niece of Scott and Shirley Leavitt, remembered her aunt and uncle as “fun-loving” and “caring souls” in a heartwrenching Facebook post on Monday. The post also goes on to describe a home situation where others may have been spared needless death if not for Shirley’s final moments of bravery. “Jessica (Shirley’s daughter) and her young girls were also home at the time of the attack, however, my aunt was able to alert her and she and the girls survived,” she continued. “Sadly, my aunt did not.”
Blizzard was memorialized as a military veteran and a locksmith, according to a former coworker Randy Slape in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to reports, Blizzard had lived in the subdivision since it was first built in the 1990s. He was one of the few remaining original residents of the neighborhood and was vice president of the Housing Association and previously served as president.
While no motive has yet been established, the media has already begun to shape public perception around the tired issues of “mental health” and gun reform. Even Longmore’s own mother, Lorna Dennis, has come out in support of the “mental health” narrative, blaming her son’s bloody warpath on a previous 6-year stint in the US Military and a system that says “created a monster.”
Longmore served in the US Army from August 2000 to May 2006 in the Global War on Terror and held the rank of Sergeant. In an interview with local news, Dennis went on to describe a steep decline in Longmore’s mental health, which allegedly included symptoms of PTSD and “schizophrenia” after he came back home.
The issue of deteriorating mental health, however, appears to have become a convenient method for the media machine to quickly cover up or downplay abhorrent acts of Black violence when they occur. When Black 24-year-old Deion Duwane Patterson was arrested for shooting five women, killing one, in an Atlanta medical office back in May, the rampage was blamed on a “mental break” and the headline quickly vanished from public memory. Like Longmore, Patterson too was a veteran, having served in the US Coast Guard prior to his attack, according to his mother.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our thoughts are with those affected by this devastating loss,” said an Atlanta VA spokesperson. “We are unable to share additional details at this time. The Atlanta VAHCS will continue to support local authorities as the investigation continues.”
Unspeakable acts of Black violence shouldn’t come as a surprise for White communities still bravely holding on inside the Atlanta metropolitan area. According to the 2020 US Census report, Atlanta, Georgia registered a dismal 38.5% non-Hispanic White population, down from 65% since the year 1940. As demographics continue to slip, crime has only soared, making once safe neighborhoods like Hampton a potential target for Black criminality seeping from the heart of “ATL.”
In 2021, the area of Buckhead—a wealthier area of northern Atlanta—even explored the idea of seceding from the city, fearing a rise in violent Black crime was a problem Atlanta’s police force was ill-equipped to handle. In 2022, rapes in Atlanta soared to an unthinkable 236% compared to the previous year, with murders also up 43% according to statistics released by the Atlanta Police Department. According to reports conducted in January of 2023, the issue remained unsolved, as Atlanta’s homicide rate was ranked among one of the worst in the country, tailing just behind other minority-majority cities like Detroit, St. Louis, and Memphis.
A GoFundMe has been set up by families of the victims in an effort to cover the monumental costs of funeral services for Shirley and Scott Leavitt. At the time of publication, the fundraiser has barely reached $5000 of its intended $50,000 goal.
Black criminality in the form of savage murder has been known to suddenly strike areas of the United States not previously known for violent crime. In January, a 22-year-old White woman was horrifically butchered with a machete by a Black immigrant in sleepy Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Not long after, a 17-year-old White boy was brutally shot dead by a Black man as he rode around on a bike with his friends in 86% White Sharon, Pennsylvania. The act of violence was later described by some as “openly racial murder.”
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