MARIETTA, Ga. — A man who is accused of being part of a violent gang, and who is in jail charged in the murders of two teens at a Douglasville Sweet 16 party in March, 2023, has now been indicted in the murder of a third teen, a teen who was shot last year at a Marietta graduation party, police confirmed Friday.
Police, and the families of the teens, say they will never know if the teens who were killed in Douglas County in March might be alive if the suspect had been identified and arrested sooner, after the shooting death at the graduation party last year.
As it is, the suspect, Tahkel Smart, 21, is charged with killing the two teens in Douglas County in March while he was on the run from murdering the teen last year.
After Smart was arrested and jailed in that Douglas County case, he was indicted by a Cobb County Grand Jury--on May 25, 2023--for the shooting death in May, 2022, of 17-year-old Grayson Green. Grayson Green was shot in the chest and killed outside the Walton Village Apartments in Marietta, where hundreds of young people had gathered to celebrate the high school seniors who were graduating.
Smart and two other suspects --17 year old twins from Cobb County, Ne'riyah Vargas and her brother, Ne'cquo Vargas -- were indicted in the Marietta case on eight counts, including malice murder and violating the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
The three suspects in that case are accused of shooting Grayson while “participating in criminal gang activity” according to the indictment.
The Vargas twins were arrested in Virginia and will be taken to Cobb County where, police said, they will be prosecuted as adults.
Smart was already in the Douglas County jail for the shootings there, when he and the others were indicted in the Marietta case.
In Douglas County, Smart is accused of killing a 14-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy in a mass shooting that erupted at a Sweet 16 Party in Douglasville in March, 2023. Investigators said the teens, Ajanaye Hill and Samuel Moon, were “not the intended targets,” but were killed in the crossfire.
In the Douglas County case, Smart faces 80 charges, two of which are murder charges. Most of the charges are related to gang activity, jail records show. Four others were also arrested in the Douglas County case.
Currently, Smart remains in the Douglas County Jail. Smart was not given bond, jail records show.
Marietta Police Officer Chuck McPhilamy said that at the graduation party last year, hundreds of young people were present, and many of them witnessed the shooting of Grayson; yet despite a reward that grew to $10,000, not one person came forward to help police identify the shooters.
So, McPhilamy said, Smart was able to continue his gang activities, showing up this past March at the Sweet 16 party in Douglas County, along with his accomplices, and opened fire there.
Police said if only someone had come forward a year ago, when Grayson Green was shot to death in Marietta, detectives might have been able to prevent the fatal shootings in Douglas County this past March.
"These are individuals who have been wreaking havoc, who needed to be held accountable," McPhilamy said Friday. “Those kids saw that event start to take place, that altercation (last year). In the video, you can see them scattering, running. And Grayson Green was left to die there on the side of the road. Grayson Green had just finished his junior year of high school. By all rights, he should have had a bright future in front of him.”
In a statement to 11Alive Friday night, Grayson Green's family said they've been trying to celebrate family and friends this Spring whose seniors were going to prom, graduating from high school and preparing for college. But, it's been hard, they said.
"His life was senselessly cut short," his family said in the statement.
Green's family said they are "happy and grateful" after hearing about the arrests of Smart and the two others, but said they are still heartbroken.
"We will not allow his legacy to be a tragedy," the family wrote.
A scholarship has been set up in memory of Green through the R&S Hannah Foundation. If you would like to support, you can find more information below:
- GGMH scholarship
1750 Powder Springs Rd
Marietta, GA 30064
Here is the family's full statement:
"This season has been especially hard. Trying to celebrate family and friends whose seniors are going to prom, graduating high-school and preparing for college. Grayson is not here to participate in any senior activities or milestones or anything else for that matter. His life was senselessly cut short.
"We released 43 lanterns for Memorial and Hope on May 21st, which marked one year since his murder and one year of waiting for answers and justice for Grayson.
"Then the call came of the arrests. We were happy and grateful; yet still heartbroken. Bittersweet news.
"We’d like to thank the Detectives and Marietta police department, GBI and those instrumental in the arrest for their continued hard work.
"We desire Justice for our son, Grayson. We will not allow his legacy to be a tragedy. We have established a Grayson Green Memorial Hero scholarship through the R&S Hannah Foundation. Last year they gave 3k in Memorial college scholarships and grants.
"If you would like to support the scholarship you can give to
R & S HannahFoundation
1750 Powder Springs Rd
Marietta , GA 30064