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Mother of teen arrested for making social media threats over YSL jailings speaks out

The online death threats began in May, according to the Sheriff. One teen is now in jail charged with 23 counts of making terroristic threats.

ATLANTA — A DeKalb County teen is in jail charged with making death threats against the Fulton County Sheriff, his wife, and others in law enforcement. The threats demanded the release of rapper Young Thug.

Young Thug and more than two dozen other alleged members of the gang YSL are being held without bond; they are named in a sweeping indictment by a Fulton County Grand Jury that charges them with violent racketeering.

Quartavius Mender, 18, from DeKalb County, is accused in a separate indictment of 23 counts of making terroristic threats in social media posts in May. The posts threatened to kill Sheriff Patrick Labat, his wife and others if Young Thug is not released.

“I signed up for this. My family certainly did not,” Sheriff Labat said Friday. “We will not allow anybody to partake in cyberbullying and-or make threats, and there are continuing investigations that will reveal other threats. We are continuing to receive threats, as many as four or five more today that are all social-media based.”

Labat said he and others named in the threats are now receiving extra security protection.

One of the posts on the sheriff’s Instagram account, for example, said, “Imma assassinate the sheriff and his wife if they don’t free thug.”

The sheriff said 23 posts on various Instagram accounts were traced to Mender, while threats received since Mender’s arrest are under investigation.

“We think it's gang-related and at least fan-base related,” Labat said. “So if there are any copycats out there, this has crossed the line, and we're going to focus on apprehension of those individuals.”

Mender’s mother, Malaika Kulenga, and his sister, Deniecia Kelly, said that Mender is being treated for a mental illness, and he has nothing to do with any gangs.

And Mender said on the phone from the jail that even though his cousin, who has the same last name, was one of the alleged gang members arrested, he has never been close to that cousin.

11Alive asked Mender why he thinks investigators would say they have proof that the threats were traced to him.

“I really don't know. It wasn't me,” Mender said. “I'm not a part of no gang, I’m not a part of YSL, I’m not part of nothing.”

Mender’s mother and sister think investigators are going after everyone they can hoping they'll testify against the ring leaders.

“Young Thug don’t know him,” Deniecia Kelly said of her brother. “He don’t know Young Thug. He don't know nobody. They can't trace a phone call or a message or nothing with anybody affiliated with YSL.”

“My son is really a person that really needs help,” for bipolar disorder, Mender’s mother, Malaika Kulenga, said. “Right now, what they’re doing is trying to put him in this situation, but he has nothing to do with it. He can't tell them anything because there's nothing to tell. There's nothing. So he's not a part of any gang, he’s not a gang member.”

But they said they believe Mender did post three threats against the sheriff—not 23 — and never intended to follow through.

Kulenga said the FBI first questioned her son on May 17 about the social media threats that appeared on May 14.

“The FBI agent was letting me know what was going on,” Kulenga said. 

She said she asked the agent, “‘Are you guys going to press charges on him?’ He said no. He said, 'He's like a harmless threat.' So then I said, ‘How many messages was allegedly sent?’ He told me it was five. But he said three of those messages, he said those were the threatening messages. So he was like, ‘He's just like a little kid, was goofing off.’ He released Quartavius. He said, ‘We're not going to press charges on him,’ he said, ‘because he is a harmless threat.’"

But the next week, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office obtained a Grand Jury indictment against Mender, charging him with 23 felony counts of making terroristic threats against the sheriff and others, and that's when Mender was arrested.

“He's not a hit man,” Kulenga said. “He's not a gang member. He's not any of these things that they're trying to portray him.” According to Kulenga, her son does not own a gun or have access to a gun and police search warrants found no weapons.

“He does not know any gang members,” Kelley said of her brother. “He don't have enough money for those gang members. He's never been around them. He's never met anyone. You can call him a fan (of Young Thug) and not a gang member because anything else is out of proportion."

She added, "He needs to get some mental health help and not a dog cage. He's just a teenage boy, was goofing off, made a bad mistake. Just turned 18 or whatever. I don't think he really had the intent to do anything to anyone. I think it's been blown out of proportion.”

“But when you cross the line and you threaten my family,” Labat said, “that’s a very grave mistake.”

In the racketeering case against Young Thug and the others, Fulton County prosecutors told a judge on Thursday that some of the witnesses against them are receiving death threats. All of the defendants remain in custody without bond.


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