Crime news: Robert McKenzie arrested; 17-year-old accused of bringing gun to Decatur HighRobert McKenzie. Photo provided by Decatur Police
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Decatur, GA — The Decatur Police Department arrested a known sexual predator on June 12 for a May 20 incident where he spit on a woman.
Robert McKenzie, a known sexual predator accused of harassing numerous women in the area, was arrested after being accused of spitting on a woman while talking to her.
According to Sgt. John Bender, “On Friday, May 20, 2022, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Decatur Police met with an adult female within the 100 block of Clairemont Avenue in reference to a simple battery. The female advised she was walking past a person who spit on her as he was attempting to speak to her. The person was later [identified] as 58-year-old Robert McKenzie of Ellenwood, Georgia. A warrant was obtained for Mr. McKenzie’s arrest for this incident. On [Sunday], June 12, 2022, at approximately 6 a.m., Mr. McKenzie was located within the 300 block of Church Street. Mr. McKenzie was arrested without incident and booked into the DeKalb County Jail.”
McKenzie was still in jail as of June 15, court records show.
His presence and his history have led to angsty debates within local Facebook groups, particularly the Oakhurst group. He’s been arrested numerous times over the past two decades.
Decatur Patch previously reported that McKenzie had been arrested in Norfolk, Va. in 2002 for “exposing himself and then beginning to masturbate in front of an 11- and 26-year-old at a local beach.” According to the Georgia Sex Offender Registry, McKenzie was convicted in Virginia in 2004 of taking indecent liberties with a child.
Atlanta Police arrested him in 2010 after he approached a woman on Freedom Parkway. He had been seen following a different woman during her runs, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. He was arrested on charges of carrying a knife longer than 3 inches. According to the AJC, “The [arresting] officer also disposed of ‘contaminated’ rags and pornographic pictures that McKenzie had in his pockets” at the time of the arrest.
In 2011, he was accused of touching a child at Glenlake Pool in Decatur, and he was subsequently arrested. The family declined to file a police report at the time, but the arrest violated the terms of his probation. Decatur Police Lt. Jennifer Ross testified at his probation revocation hearing and said his probation was revoked. He served the remainder of his sentence and was released in 2013.
Since then, it’s been a repeated cycle of arrests that lead to brief stints in jail only to see McKenzie released again. While many people who post comments on Facebook and NextDoor feel McKenzie is a legitimate threat to public safety and his whereabouts should be tracked, many others feel he is being unfairly targeted by residents.
One post in March generated so many comments that Capt. Jennifer Ross waded in to provide some additional context about his case.
“I am very familiar with Robert McKenzie and wanted to address some of the questions and issues that are being brought up on this thread. I began researching McKenzie in 2011 for several reasons,” Ross said. “We were being notified that stories of McKenzie harassing and stalking female cyclists and joggers were circulating, McKenzie was frequenting Decatur and there was confusion about his residency and status as a registered sex offender and what restrictions were in place due to that status. I learned McKenzie relocated to Georgia from another state where he was a registered sex offender and subsequently failed to register in Georgia for which he was arrested and placed on probation.”
She said there are no residency or employment restrictions on a sex offender if they were arrested for a sex crime before June 4, 2003.
“However, some restrictions were in place due to the probation,” Ross said. “I subsequently reported new incidents to probation and McKenzie was arrested and ultimately served the remainder of his sentence in custody. McKenzie has since reoffended, been arrested and released. His being in the area near [Beacon Hill Middle School] and [Decatur High School] is not a violation of his status.”
Ross said most of the calls the department receives about McKenzie are reports that he is “yelling incoherently” which is not a crime. She said anyone who is threatened or assaulted by McKenzie should file a police report. Otherwise, the police can’t do anything.
“Sometimes community members call and report what sounds like a criminal act involving McKenzie, but they are not willing to meet with an officer, file a report and pursue prosecution and we cannot pursue prosecution for an anonymous victim,” Ross said.
She also addressed why McKenzie is not currently in prison or an institution to help him with his mental health.
“McKenzie has previously been released from jail and prison upon completion of his sentences or due to him being released on probation,” she said. “Those decisions are made at the judicial level. Offenders are not kept in custody past completion of a sentence due to prior criminal history or mental health issues.”
Ross said calls and posts about McKenzie have often led them in the wrong direction. In some instances, people accuse McKenzie of doing things when his GPS tracker shows he wasn’t in the area at the time of the incidents.
“McKenzie does frequent the city, we see him,” she wrote. “However, it is not uncommon for other men to be mistaken for McKenzie. I have previously been contacted by community members wanting to make the police department aware they saw McKenzie in the city during a time that I knew, and verified, that he was in custody. I have seen stories posted on social media reporting McKenzie as the suspect when I knew, and verified, that he was in custody. I have also previously seen posts on social media stating McKenzie was currently hanging out at a certain location in the city such as a park or area children or students frequent, gone to the location and located another man that fit McKenzie’s basic physical description. We understand the concern, especially since McKenzie frequents The Path [trail] and adjacent streets where students travel to and from school and people exercise. However, McKenzie is being repeatedly misidentified due to circulation of photos and online stories. I am now going on my 11th year trying to address issues and concerns with McKenzie. I have attended and testified at numerous hearings/revocations. I have asked for him to not be released. All that being said, please be cautious about positively identifying someone as being the suspect in a crime because you have seen a photo circulating online.”
In other crime news:
– On May 20, Decatur High School’s principal reported that a student brought an unloaded gun and marijuana to the school’s campus, resulting in increased security.
Bender confirmed the student in question was arrested. The school resource officer took possession of the gun and the marijuana and obtained warrants for the 17-year-old student. He was arrested in the school’s lobby and charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone and possession of marijuana less than one ounce.
– On May 24 at 2:40 a.m., Decatur Police were called to the 900 block of Church Street regarding a domestic incident.
“An adult female informed officers that her adult boyfriend strangled her and prevented her from dialing 911 while inside of a hotel room,” Bender said. “Officers met with the male inside of the room where he provided false identifying information to the officers. Officers also located methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana within the hotel room.”
They arrested a 35-year-old man from Monticello, GA on charges of aggravated assault, battery, drug possession, giving a false name and date of birth and obstructing a 911 call.
– On May 30 at 2 a.m. Decatur Police were called to a business in the 500 block of West Howard Avenue about a sexual assault. Several women said a man left after sexually assaulting them.
“The male removed his penis from his pants and began to rub it on the women and attempted to reach under their clothing,” Bender said. “The male was located by officers walking along West Howard Avenue and was arrested without incident.”
The suspect, a 28-year-old Alpharetta man, faces three charges of sexual battery and one charge of public indecency.
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