COVINGTON - Four men are fighting for their lives at Atlanta trauma hospitals following a shooting in connection with an armed robbery at a West Street apartment Tuesday night, according to the Covington Police Department.
Jamaal Pridgett, 18, of 214 East Richardson St., Oxford, was arrested hours after the shooting and remains at the Newton County Detention Center charged with four counts of aggravated assault and four counts of armed robbery.
"More charges may be forthcoming pending further investigation," Detective Daniel Seals said Wednesday afternoon. "We are staying in close contact with the hospitals on the condition of these victims. It could change hour to hour."
Seals said three of the victims, whose ages range from late teens to 30, were flown by air ambulance for emergency medical care immediately following the incident that occurred about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. They are listed in guarded to serious condition. The fourth victim was transported by ambulance to Newton Medical Center.
Witnesses said the men were shot multiple times with a handgun, but it was still unknown Wednesday afternoon what caliber or type of gun was used.
Seals said the wounds covered a range of locations on the victims' bodies, and when EMS technicians left the scene with the victims, they said the trauma was so massive it was impossible to tell how many shots each victim sustained.
Seals said the shooting occurred at a small apartment at 3240 West St. and "statements from witnesses and some of the shooting victims produced a shooting suspect."
Officers were told a dice game was in progress at the residence when Pridgett stood up, pulled out a pistol and commanded everyone to lie down on the floor.
"Pridgett robbed the victims, shot them and ran off," Seals said.
He commended the diligent efforts of street patrol officers who preserved the crime scene and got immediate medical help for the victims, as well as detectives who worked through the night to ensure the suspect was quickly arrested.
"Ultimately, Pridgett was found hiding inside a local residence," Seals said. "We're glad he's off the street, and we have no reason to believe there was another shooter. We don't believe there is now any danger to the public. This was not a random shooting. He knew the victims, and they knew him."
Seals said detectives are continuing to interview witnesses and are appealing to the community to help them make sure justice is achieved for these four victims.
"If there's anyone we haven't spoken to, or anyone who knows any further information, no matter how small, we want to speak with them," he said. "Just a small fact can make a difference when we're putting together the whole picture."
Seals can be reached at 770-385-2144 or 770-786-7605.
Tips can be given to the CPD anonymously by visiting their Web site at www.covingtonpolice.com and clicking on "contact us" and then "secret witness."
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.