A former DeKalb County school teacher who has been charged in the murder of two Jonesboro youths has been found to have alleged ties to an internationally known, violent criminal street gang.
Michael De’Sean White is a member of the Crips gang, according to his arrest warrant. White, a former fifth-grade teacher at Toney Elementary School, was arrested on March 23 in connection with the 2016 murder of Tatiyana Coates, 11, Daveon Coates, 15.
Both victims were found shot to death inside a Jonesboro residence.
In 2016, police said intruders tried to force their way inside the home overnight while Tatiyana, Daveon and several other children, ages 6 to 13, were inside. At some point, the suspects began shooting but later escaped. Investigators said one of the children was the one to make the call to police.
In February 2017, Clayton County Police told 11Alive the suspects were gang members. Clayton County Police Chief Michael Register said he knew which gang was involved, but would not name it. Register said the suspects went to the home looking for a 15-year-old boy who was staying at the house.
“The gang wanted their weapons back,” Register said in 2017.
Chief Register said the 15-year-old had already ran away from the house to escape the retaliation he knew was coming. But he left his four younger siblings there – ages three and up – along with the two Coates children.
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Clayton County arrest warrants released Wednesday show another child inside the home survived, and helped the GBI make a sketch of one of the men involved.
In a recorded interview, a member of the Crips said White was one of the shooters responsible for the deaths. Another member of the Crips, in a separate interview, said White and other gang members went to the scene of the crime to physically harm the people inside the home.
Months after the shooting, White started as a paraprofessional with DeKalb County schools. He became a fifth-grade teacher in August 2017.
DeKalb school officials said White passed two background checks with no signs of a criminal history. They also said White was arrested during the school day on March 23 and that parents weren't notified since he hadn't been convicted of a crime.
The district said White has a right to his privacy until he is found guilty and they do not send out notifications about the arrest of teachers.
However, the DeKalb County School District later confirmed that they had sent out a letter to parents about the incident.
The district confirmed White was removed from his position until official results of the investigation are released. The district said all employees must submit to a thorough background check before being hired. They said White was checked twice in 2017 and on both occasions, nothing indicated he could be involved in criminal behavior.
Clayton County police said White was arrested for murder and remains in police custody.
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