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Public safety news: Driver of U-Haul van takes out utility pole in Belvedere Park, causing power outages

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Public safety news: Driver of U-Haul van takes out utility pole in Belvedere Park, causing power outages

The driver of a U-Haul van plowed into a utility pole on Wednesday evening, Jan. 25, causing power outages in the Belvedere Park neighborhood. Photo provided to Decaturish.

This story has been updated.

DeKalb County, GA — The driver of a U-Haul van plowed into a utility pole on Wednesday evening, Jan. 25, causing power outages in the Belvedere Park neighborhood.

The crash occurred near the intersection of Columbia Drive and Belvedere Plaza, near a Wells Fargo bank branch and an Auto Zone, according to a resident of the neighborhood and an image from the scene provided to Decaturish.

DeKalb County Police say the driver left the scene.

“When officers arrived, they located a U-haul van that had collided with a utility pole,” a spokesperson for the police department said. “The driver fled the scene on foot prior to our arrival. We are standing by for a Georgia Power crew to respond to assist with removing the debris/wires before opening it back up.”

In other local crime and public safety news:

— The Decatur Police Department is trying to find the individual responsible for abandoning puppies at Glenlake Dog Park.

“Nine puppies in total were left in the park,” the police department announced in a Facebook post. “Sadly, one did not survive the night. There are eight total puppies we brought to Lifeline (DeKalb Animal Services) today. When we arrived, two of the puppies were in critical condition, but the veterinary staff is hopeful for a full recovery for them! If you are able, please consider adopting one of these furry friends. They are all super sweet and need great homes. This case is currently being investigated by our Criminal Investigations Division. If you have any information about who may have abandoned these puppies, please contact the Decatur Police Department at 404-373-6551. You can reach Lifeline at 404-294-2996.”

— Decatur Police are also seeking information about car break-ins that occurred earlier this month.

“During the overnight hours, there were approximately 28 cars broken into around the Shadowmoor Drive, Hilldale Drive, Heatherdown and Derrydown area of Decatur,” the police department said in a Facebook post. “If you are a victim in reference to this case, please reach out to us at [email protected] if you have not already met with an officer. Additionally, if you live in the area, please look at any surveillance footage you may have on your home from the overnight hours (01-10-2023 to 01-11-2023). If you notice any suspicious activity, please feel free to call us or email the footage to the email above.”

— A Decatur resident was arrested in Atlanta following a recent protest in the city that ended with property damage to buildings and police vehicles. Activists and demonstrators met peacefully at Underground Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. They were there to denounce the death of an activist protesting the construction of a new police training center, called “Cop City” by opponents. On Jan. 18, a police officer shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Teran, 26. A State Trooper was also shot and wounded during the confrontation. There is no body camera footage of the incident, and the trooper has not been identified. Police allege Teran had a gun and have provided evidence Teran owned a gun recovered at the scene.

Graham Evatt, 20, was arrested along with five other people following the protest, and he is the only person arrested from Georgia. He’s accused of four felonies: arson, criminal damage, interference with government property and domestic terrorism, as well as several misdemeanors.

In related news, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will continue investigating Teran’s death, despite calls for the agency to recuse itself because it’s involved in the task force working to remove activists from the site of the training facility, which is located in DeKalb County’s South River Forest. The agency confirmed its continued involvement on Jan. 25, hours after DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston announced she would be recusing herself from the shooting investigation and requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor to review the GBI’s findings.

— Stone Mountain Police Chief James Westerfield recently gave the Stone Mountain City Council a report on crime statistics over the past year. Westerfield said that crime overall had dropped.

“It’s a lot better,” said Westerfield, saying that the pandemic had seen a rise in violent crime all over the Atlanta area and Stone Mountain Village had five homicides per year over the preceding two years. However, in 2022 Stone Mountain had zero homicides. He attributed the decline in violence to many factors, including a concerted effort to reduce response times.

Westerfield also said that his department is on the way to being fully staffed. The Stone Mountain Police Department has recently sworn in three new officers: Daniel Wilson, Anna Bridwell, and Jovan Brown. The department is seeking to hire two more officers.

— The Decatur Downtown Development Authority is working toward hiring a security firm to provide an additional security presence in downtown Decatur.

At the Jan. 13 DDA meeting, Business Development Manager Shirley Baylis said she has gotten increased calls from local businesses with concerns about shoplifting and some employees not feeling safe going to their vehicles late at night.

“The discussion has been around what can we do with a decrease in police presence around the Square because they are in other area of the city, and they are short on staff as well,” Baylis said. “We sought out to start looking at what do those options look like for bringing in, possibly, a security service. We have looked at one that has a presence in the city already with one business.”

— On Nov. 17, 2022, Quanisha Ball died after being hit by a Dodge Challenger while she was crossing Scott Boulevard in Greater Decatur. The driver did remain on the scene. But Ball’s family wants answers about what happened to her and they’re asking local officials to make the crossing safer for pedestrians.

“She was just Quanisha,” said Courtney Thompkins, Ball’s mother. “She was just one of a kind. No one else can be in her shoes.”

On Jan. 15, Thompkins, along with family and friends, gathered at a dog park on Scott Boulevard near Blackmon Drive to release red and gold biodegradable balloons in honor of Ball. They also advocated for local cities, the county and the state to work toward improving the intersection and conditions for pedestrians.

“As I feel her standing here, I feel she wants me to save somebody else’s life,” Thompkins said. “She doesn’t want her life to be in vain. I feel she wanted to say [to me], ‘Mom, fix these things that took my life away from me. Even though I can’t come back, my life is able to save somebody else’s life.’ That’s what’s important to her and to me and our family.”

— On Friday, Jan. 13, Decatur Police responded to a fatal single-car collision in the 700 block of South Candler Street.

A black 2012 Honda Civic was heading southbound on South Candler Street when it “left the roadway and hit a tree,” according to a Decatur Police spokesperson. The victim, identified as 32-year-old Christopher Myers of Decatur, died from his injuries.

— During a recent East Lake Neighborhood Community Association meeting, Sara Jacenko, one of the recently elected ELNCA board members, raised concern about recent mailbox thefts in East Lake.

Lt. Carroll from Atlanta Police Zone 6 addressed her concerns, stating that police officers are aware of the situation and will continue to look into the issue.

— Clarkston City Manager Shawanna Qawiy reports that Flock Safety is working with the Clarkston Police Department to conduct a pilot program testing the utilization of drones as first responders. There is no cost to the city. The pilot duration is less than 90 days and will not exceed one year.

Zoe Seiler, Jaedon Mason, Mary Margaret Stewart, and Sara Amis contributed to this story. 

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