Saturday's Deadly Shooting is Ninth Incident of Increasing Gun Violence in Washington Since 2020

Published on 30 June 2023 at 08:37

Deondra Barksdale pictured with her daughter. (Image blurred to protect the child's privacy.)

A candlelight vigil in memory of Deondra will be held Friday, June 30th at 7:00 PM at the Washington Parks and Recreation Department. The public is welcome to attend to honor her life.


Deondra Barksdale spent part of her Saturday afternoon as many do, out shopping for groceries at the local Ingles Supermarket. She had her infant daughter and a younger brother along when she met up with neighbor Michelle Mickens and stopped for a brief conversation. It would be the last time they’d speak together.

            By midnight Saturday, Deondra was being transported by helicopter to a level-one trauma center in Augusta with a gunshot wound to the head. She did not survive.

            Just before 11PM June 24th, Deondra was shot in the head as she walked out the door of William Derricott’s WD Package Shop on Whitehall Street in Washington, GA, where she’d just purchased juice for her year-old daughter, whom she held in her arms. 

            A group had formed near the store, possibly spilling over from a nearby party celebrating the life of Mitaiveon “Tae” Tutt, killed in 2020 by a companion mishandling a firearm. An altercation began, involving a young man and his mother —  they’d been at her birthday party earlier, according one account — and ended in gunfire.

            Cedric Antonio Norman, 21 of Washington, is accused of murder, four counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and gang-related activity, all stemming from the shooting death of Ms. Barksdale and the wounding of his mother, Yetoi T. Norman.

            Barksdale was struck in the head by a stray bullet, and Ms. Norman, the assailant’s mother, was shot in the arm attempting to stop her son. The altercation, by some accounts, was because of an on-going argument between son and mother, or between Mr. Norman and his mother’s companion.

            Wilkes deputies and EMS responded to the scene, but Ms. Barksdale was transported to Wills Memorial Hospital in a private car. Around midnight, she was airlifted from Washington to a hospital in Augusta, where she later died.

            Wilkes County deputies and agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spent nearly four days canvassing the city and surrounding area, questioning neighbors and acquaintances in the search for Norman. GBI Special Agent in Charge Jamie Skelton said the teams repeatedly visited the suspect’s known friends and neighbors, stressing the importance of Norman peaceably surrendering to authorities. Norman finally appeared at the Wilkes Sheriff department Wednesday evening, escorted by family members, and was taken into custody, according to the GBI.

 

            Ms. Mickens is a long-time English instructor at Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School (WWCHS). Deondra was her homeroom student throughout her high school years.

             “We spent a lot of time together when she was in school. As an adult, she lived across the street from me. To hear that she was an innocent victim of a stray bullet ripped my heart apart.

I am thankful to whatever powers that be for allowing me to see her in the grocery store Saturday afternoon to hold a brief conversation with her while she held her sweet baby in her arms.”

         After graduating in 2018, and the birth of her daughter last year, Barksdale became involved in the Wilkes County Jumpstart program; Shaneesia Williams was her Home Parent Education advisor.

         “She was a very beautiful soul, she had a beautiful one year old daughter…She worked at Divine Care which is a daycare facility, all of her co-workers truly loved her and this tragedy really hurt her co-workers. Deondra (friends called her DeeDee) was known for loving on kids, she was always helping out any way possible.  She was caretaker for her mother as well.”

         According to friends, Deondra — as the oldest child — became the primary caregiver for her disabled mother, Tanika Barnes, and three younger siblings, as well as her own infant daughter.

         “The pain is unbelievable, just to know that my daughter has been involved (in) senseless gun violence, but what hurts the most is the thought of her not being there for her daughter,” wrote her father Myreon Barksdale in an online post.

         Mickens also knows the accused, Cedric Norman. She tells the Informer he was an empathetic child, very active, but an indifferent student, who attended alternative classes, and eventually dropped out of school. Norman’s own father died a few years ago, a victim of gun violence. “It’s hard to see them grow up this way, and turn out kind of reckless,” she said.

 

         Locally, Alicia Brower is conducting a GoFundMe campaign to pay for Ms. Barksdale’s funeral and assist her family. “As some of you may know, Dee Dee lost her life to senseless gun violence. She was simply leaving out the store when she was struck with a stray bullet leaving her with ultimately no brain activity. This has been a hard decision for her family to make and now we are asking for your help. Please help me with ensuring that Dee Dee’s light is spread around one more time….Dee Dee’s heart for her family was so amazing, she would do anything to make sure they were taken care of.” (Donations may be made through this link: https://gofund.me/e87fa813). Donations are also accepted at Terry’s IGA Market on Spring Street. Funeral arrangements are pending.

There will be a vigil in honor of Deondra Barksdale on Friday, June 30th at 7:00 PM at the Parks and Recreation Center in Washington.

 

Washington is no stranger to gun violence in the past decade. Consider this list, compiled from media and law enforcement sources:

        

Nyheim DyQuon Gartrell was convicted in the shooting death and robbery of 67-year-old James Edwards in 2014, Edwards was assaulted as he rode his bicycle along Railroad Lane on the west side of town.  Gartrell was already in jail after being booked in connection with a separate shooting incident at the Pope Center three months earlier, where two bystanders were wounded as people departed a sweet-sixteen party.

 

Three shootings in September, 2020: On Sept. 9, the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office investigated a drive-by shooting that resulted in no injuries on Tate Street; charged in connection with with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in that case, Delvonte Harris was arrested after a brief car chase with police. The arrest was made in Athens-Clarke County. Authorities in Washington arrested Rydrequces Cullars, 25, without incident. Several hours later around 10 a.m., there were reports of a drive-by shooting at a house on Pecan Grove Road. Officials say two children were shot and suffered injuries. Both children were treated and were released from the hospital.

 

 

December, 2020:  Mitaiveon Tutt, 15, was accidentally shot and killed by an 18-year-old mishandling a firearm at a home on Riverside Drive. Tutt died three days later at Augusta University Medical Center in Augusta. Just 10 minutes down the road, another teenager was involved in a shooting on Hendry lane. Someone fired multiple rounds into 18-year-old Malik Wheeler’s home, hitting him in the leg. Wheeler, a former Washington-Wilkes running back, still suffers from his injuries.

 

June 10, 2021, Wilkes County deputies responded to the 6600 block of Lincolnton Road after an urgent 911 call about a woman with a gunshot wound to the head. The GBI and Wilkes County deputies eventually arrested 26-year-old Quentario Laguines on charges of aggravated battery-family violence and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

 

Three men entered the Citgo service station on Robert Toombs Avenue February 22, 2022 and began arguing. Two of the individuals, identified as Corey C. Danner III, 18, and Joshua E. Walton, exited the store and began shooting at each other in the parking lot, according to GBI. Danner and Walton left the scene after the shooting. A third man involved in the argument was not charged. Michael Wilkinson, 41, of Washington, — a patron in the store— was struck by shattered glass during the incident, causing minor injuries.

 

Pharaoh Williams of Washington turned himself in at the Wilkes County Jail after a fight broke out on Clayton Street in downtown Athens in September 2022. Williams was charged with seven counts of aggravated assault and firearms possession. Police say during a celebration of Georgia’s win over Clemson, a fight broke out, and they believe Williams walked up and started shooting, injuring seven. “We don’t feel like this was a random act where the general public is at risk,” police Lt. Shaun Barnett said. “We think he was involved with the parties that were involved in the altercation.”

 

Kiwanis Curry Jr., 17, of  Washington, was arrested by the GBI and Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022 and was  charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Shortly after 1:40 p.m. Sept. 19, were called to the intersection of  Baltimore Rd. and Ashley Park Dr. They found a 2021 Honda Accord parked in the intersection with seventeen-year-old Tre'Vontae Gray inside, suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died. A second suspect, Cornelius Burley, 17, of Washington, earlier was transported to the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office after being treated for a gunshot wound and released from the hospital; he was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

 

 Finally, From Jamie D. Skelton, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, GBI Region Field Office, Thomson Georgia:

On Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at approximately 7:30 PM, Cedric Antonio Norman of Washington, Georgia, turned himself in to the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office. Norman was wanted in the shooting death of Deondra Barksdale, also of Washington, Georgia, which occurred on June 24, 2023. Norman is being charged with murder, four counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

 

Reported and written by Richard Crabbe for the Washington Wilkes Informer

 

 

William Derricott’s WD Package Shop on Whitehall Street, scene of Deondra Barksdale’s fatal shooting June 24th. (right)

Cedric Antonio Norman (left)

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Cindy Barrow
10 months ago

Cindy's Cake Creations is selling raffle tickets ($5/ticket or $20/5 tickets) for a cake of choice with all proceeds going to the family of Deondra. Tickets may be obtained from Cindy Barrow, Sharae Reid or Molly Barrow. Cash and cashapp accepted. Drawing July 14th and winner will be contacted by phone.