Two months ago, a high school football star from the Atlanta suburbs, Elijah DeWitt, was viciously gunned down by two thugs in the parking lot of a Dave & Buster’s while on a date with his beautiful, longtime girlfriend. While the state struggles to deal with the thugs, both of whom have pleaded not guilty, Elijah’s parents are taking the mall to court over the pervasive criminal activity in the area. Elijah was white and the two murderers, Kemare Bryan and Chandler Richardson, are black.
DeWitt was 18 years old when murdered, a star football player who had already garnered recognition from NFL quarterback Cam Newton. But that didn’t save him; he was shot and killed on Oct. 5, 2022. The New York Post, reporting on his murder at the time, said:
Elijah DeWitt, a standout receiver for Jefferson High School, was gunned down outside the chain restaurant in the parking lot of the Sugarloaf Mills Mall Wednesday, according to local reports. The 18-year-old was found dead around 8 p.m. after police rushed to the scene to reports of person shot, authorities said.
Two days later, Gwinnett police said Kemare Bryan, 18, and Chandler Richardson, 19, were arrested in South Carolina and charged with felony murder, as well as other crimes connected to the shooting that the victim’s team said left them “heartbroken.”
Last week, Richardson pleaded not guilty to all counts Bryan had already pleaded not guilty last month.
Elijah’s parents are suing the mall over their son’s death, arguing that it knew about the persistently high crime in and near it yet did not do enough to keep patrons like their son safe from thugs like Byran and Richardson. The New York Post, in its report on the lawsuit, noted:
With full knowledge of the “dangerous and hazardous conditions,” the mall
“negligently represented to its invitees that the [premises] were properly maintained and reasonably safe,” lawyers for DeWitt’s parents, Craig and Dawn, said in their suit filed in the State Court of Gwinnett County.
The suit names Simon Property Group, Sugarloaf Mills Limited Partnership, Universal Protection Service, the mall’s security director Jason Choy, Dave & Buster’s of Georgia and five John Does as defendants.
DeWitt’s parents are seeking compensatory damages on four counts under Georgia law: failure to keep the premises safe; allowing and maintaining a nuisance; voluntary undertaking and negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention.
Speaking to the New York Post in a statement, the DeWitt family’s lawyer said “When businesses know that their property is dangerous … they have two options: one, warn visitors, so they know about the danger and can make an educated decision about whether to go to the property, or two … take reasonable safety measures to protect customers who are unaware of the danger. These Defendants did not warn or keep people safe.”
DeWitt’s mom said, in a statement to the Post, “This is not the dream we had for our son, instead it has become a daily nightmare that we are unable to wake up from. We are constantly reminded of the opportunities and moments that were taken away from him and sincerely hope that we can use our voices to help bring about some change that will prevent another family from experiencing this in the future.”
Featured image credit: Mugshots of the two killers from Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, Elijah DeWitt photo from @ elijahdewitt2/Instagram
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