|She grew up in a town Black lawmakers want to make illegal because of 'white flight"|
That their life was essentially meaningless and their death just another statistic.
I have one friend who was shot by a Black guy on his college campus, an attack that had no motive. I've never been acquainted with someone who would ultimately lose their life at the hand of a Black individual or known someone who lost a close friend the same way. All of this changed last night, when visiting the city too busy to hate, I received a text from a dinner companion who was running late, reading:
One of (name removed) friends was killed by a Black guy in Midtown.
Immediately, I thought of all the times I've told people to take precautions in cities like Atlanta, New York City, Chicago and other places, only to be scoffed at and told that I'm 'ignorant' for thinking that way. Well, if ignorance has the ability to keep you alive because you can assess threats and understand criminal patterns, so be it.
Atlanta is probably the No. 1 city in the south that young, college educated white people gravitate to and start their professional careers in. The bars in Midtown, Buckhead, and the Virginia Highlands are basically an extension of the college fraternity and sorority experience, with unbelievably beautiful white girls slutting it up and bar hopping in a city with a distinctively Black criminal problem.
So you'll understand that upon receiving this text last night at one of the trendy restaurants in Buckhead - with white girls slutting it up in short dresses in one of the only safe enclaves of the city and pathetic white guys in Bama Bangs hoping to notch another score on their belt - that I lost my composure.
Here's the story:
Atlanta police released new information Friday evening on the arrest of a security guard charged with killing a woman and wounding two other women in Midtown.
Police announced the arrest of 22-year-old Nkosi Thandiwe shortly after 6 p.m.
According to an APD news release, the suspect released he had been identified by investigators, so he contacted an attorney and later turned himself in.
Police said Thandiwe worked as a security guard in the same building at 1170 Peachtree Street where the three women worked. The building is directly across the street from the parking deck at 14th Street and Crescent Avenue where the shootings took place at around noon.
Thandiwe is being held at the Fulton County Jail on one count of murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
Investigators say Thandiwe ambushed 26-year-old Brittney Watts by opening fire and killing her.
Investigators said one of the surviving victims was shot in the back and the other was shot in the ankle. Both were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
Police said Thandiwe fled the scene in Watts' Toyota Prius, which was recovered late Friday afternoon in southwest Atlanta. Investigators found the car on Richland Road, which is less than two miles from the suspect's home.
Neighbors of the Thandiwe family said the family of five have lived in their house for 15 years. They described the family (two parents, two boys and a girl) as nice and said they keep to themselves.
Late Friday night, AlliedBarton Security Services who Thandiwe worked for issued a statement, saying it's shocked and saddened that one of its employees is implicated in the shootings.
According to the statement, "We can confirm the man arrested was employed with us a little less than a year. AlliedBarton conducted a thorough background screening, which included a fingerprint analysis, under the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's strict security personnel clearance requirements. His pre-employment background check revealed no prior incidents."
The company also said it's providing its full support and cooperation to the Atlanta Police Department.
Watts worked with 22squared, an independent advertising agency based in Atlanta.
According to a statement issued by 22squared Corporate Communications Director Julianna Bowman , "We are deeply saddened by today's unimaginable tragedy, and the loss of Brittney Watts, a valued member of our 22squared family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brittney's loved ones, MSL Group and MSL's employees who were injured today."
The two survivors worked at the MSL public relations group in the Proscenium office building. Lauren Garcia, 23, was an intern and 24-year-old Tiffany Ferenczy worked as an assistant account executive.
Jim Tsokanos, MSL Group President of the Americas sent a statement to CBS Atlanta News early Friday evening saying the following:
"At this time, we don't know the extent of their injuries, but thankfully we know that they are both alive and in stable condition. We are cooperating with the Atlanta Police Department in their investigation. This situation is unimaginable, but we remain positive and our thoughts and prayers are with our Atlanta colleagues, their families and our staff."
Tsokanos noted that the rest of his MSL Group employees were "100 percent accounted for and safe."
Police said they believe Thandiwe shot the women as they headed to the parking deck in the Proscenium building.
Police have not released a possible motive for the shootings.
I imagined at that moment that that was the same look so many family members and friends in the city too busy to hate had over the loss of Watts; I realized that those melancholy eyes were the same that Carter Strange's parents had, and the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of swollen reddened eyes that people have had in cities all across the country because someone they loved was harmed in a random, senseless altercation with a Black person.
Trying to make sense of the moment, I looked around the restaurant at the tables of happy, complacent white people - all dressed like the former fraternity and sorority members they still aspire to be - and realized that any one of them could have been in Watts' shoes.
Dying for no reason in a parking garage of an Atlanta parking garage, shot through the neck at the hands of some Black security guard, Watts' death symbolizes the futility of gentrification in the city too busy to hate.
It was a moment like last night that I sometimes wish I could have taken the blue pill so many years ago, and just gone back to talking about the Braves game or discussing the finer points of Harry Potter's latest film battling for the rights of muggles everywhere.
Found a way to not let the reddened eyes of one of Watts' friends impact me; to block them out entirely and drown in a sea of booze and sexual hedonism like the rest of the people in the restaurant.
I can't do that. Watts could have been my sister - she could have been your sister - or a cousin; or a good friend. Or a daughter.
May the day come when the guilt finally ebbs from our hearts and minds and we no longer feel sorry for the plight of Black people nor make excuses for the criminal nature of a larger percentage of their population. It's not our fault.
Video on the story of Brittney Watts murder is here.
Update on July 17: Not sure why I wrote Brookwood High School, but Brittney went to Roswell High School in Roswell, one of those 'white flight' communities Black lawmakers want to make illegal. I know a lot of people who went to Roswell and my deepest sympathies are with anyone and everyone who knew her.
Here is Brittney's blog. It's so sad to read, because - to me - she represents so many of my friends who went to an SEC or ACC school. Her blog is called "Small Dreams" and it is tragic to read. She had just bought a new home with her husband (Brian Watts, a former walk-on "token white" on the University of Georgia basketball team) in Decatur - a highly Stuff White People Like (SWPL) white area - and posted on June 28th a picture of Midtown, with this caption: "Did I mention how I happy I am to be back here?"
Brittney was a normal white southerner, who had dreams and aspirations that were mowed down with one bullet.. Her blog is an online mausoleum to those dreams now. My deepest, sincerest regrets and sympathies are with Brian Watts (Brittney's husband) and the Fox and Watts families. If anyone from those respective families (or friends of theirs) reads this entry, please know that I am so sorry for your loss. The reason families like yours had to move to Dunwoody is because Atlanta is an unsafe city.
It's unsafe because of Black people. Never forget that.
As I left Atlanta today and flew home, I was reminded of that awful mural that greets Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport passengers as they ride up the escalator to the main terminal, and how my main goal in life is for this to one day be removed. I said a prayer in Brittney's name to a God I know longer believe in, and decided it's time to start working on that goal.