Authorities arrest gang members

COVINGTON - The Covington Police Department has arrested seven members of a street gang calling themselves COK - the Corporation of Killers - they believe are responsible for the beating and robbery of a 16-year-old juvenile about midnight Monday.

Detective Daniel Seals said that because this group banded together with the intent to carry out criminal acts and carried out their plans insofar as the beating and robbery of this victim are concerned, all seven will be charged under the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. They are not believed to be affiliated with any other gangs well-known to law enforcement.

All seven are also being charged with aggravated assault, robbery and violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, while three of them will face the additional charge of destruction of evidence.

"We were very glad that because of proactive police work, as well as the good work from Sgt. Arvo Bowen, that in just over 24 hours (of the incident) we had arrested not only the assailants of this juvenile victim, but busted up a street gang, as well," Seals said. "We're very proud of that, and we won't tolerate this type of thing in our city. We've talked to the good folks in the Housing Authority and they were glad that we were on top of it and able to make these arrests. It makes them feel safer."

The seven-member gang was comprised of teens, including two 17-year-old adults - Cleveland Howard Brady and Laquane Tabarus Stroud, both of 5139 Nixon Circle - two 16-year-olds, two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old. Five of the teens lived in the Covington Housing Authority off Alcovy Road, one lived in an adjacent neighborhood and the seventh member of the gang has a Conyers address.

Seals said the incident that led to the group's arrest took place in the early morning hours Thursday, when officers responded to Lott Street and found the victim of what he described as a "vicious beating."

EMS treated the 16-year-old at the scene and he was able to tell the officers he had been jumped by a group of men and robbed of his cash. Seals said he believed it was simply a crime of opportunity, as the victim did not know the names of any of those involved in the assault.

He said the gang members were "all quite forthcoming," in discussing their group and detectives had deduced they were simply a group who decided to hang out together, commit crimes and call themselves the COK. Six attended various schools throughout Newton County, while one was a Rockdale County student. They apparently had not come up with colors or specific dress to identify themselves.

"When you go by a name such as that and then set out to enact crimes, that's not friends hanging out. That's a problem, and we're going to take care of that problem," Seals said.

The detective said it was the first time in recent memory the CPD had charged anyone under Street Gang and Terrorism Act and their intent in doing so was so that during the penalty phase of the judicial process, additional time could be added to their sentences.

The two adult suspects are being detained in the Newton County Detention Center, while the five juveniles will be sent to youth detention centers.

Chief Stacey Cotton praised his officers for the job they did in apprehending these suspects, and said he wanted residents to be reassured that gang activity would not be tolerated in the community.

"Our intent is when we come across these activities is to enforce the law and not only arrest one or two, but arrest the whole group if we can," he said. "Unfortunately, most of this seems to be centered around juvenile activity, those in school or just out of school ... But just because they're not sophisticated criminals does not mean they can't commit crimes and terrorize neighborhoods. We're committed to stopping them."

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.