CONYERS, Ga. — Family members identified two of the three teens killed after authorities claim the teens were involved in an attempted armed robbery in Rockdale County early Monday morning.
The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office said the teens, two 16-year-old boys and a 15-year-old, were killed during an exchange of gunfire. A Sheriff's spokesman said late Monday afternoon that the teens were attempting to rob three people in the front yard of a home, and one of the teens opened fire on the alleged robbery victims.
The incident happened just after 4 a.m. off Flat Shoals Road on White Oak Court in Conyers.
Family members identified two of the teens killed as 16-year-old Isaiah Reid and his 15-year-old sibling Jaime Hernandez.
“They was loving, they was brothers," said LaShawn Thornton, their aunt, Monday evening, speaking of how close they were to each other.
On Wednesday, the Rockdale County coroner identified the third as 16-year-old Brandon Gresham.
Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett told 11Alive News earlier Monday that the three teens had come to rob the homeowner and his family in the middle of the night.
“When deputies arrived, they did find masks on the [faces of the deceased] young men," Sheriff Levett said.
The Sheriff's spokesman said late Monday afternoon that investigators had concluded that "the three now deceased individuals had their faces covered as they approached the residence and attempted to rob three individuals in the front yard. One of the attempted robbery suspects brandished a handgun and fired shots at the residents before one of the intended robbery victims returned fire. The victims of the attempted robbery were all uninjured, but the three attempted robbery suspects were all shot during the exchange of gunfire and succumbed to their injuries, one on scene and two at a local hospital after being transported."
The brothers' aunt, Thornton, said the family is aching for answers, wondering why the teens went out in the middle of the night wearing masks, wondering why they would have confronted the other family, wondering if the teens had been shot in the back as they were running away, wondering why the three members of the other family--the homeowner, his mother and one other person--were outside in their front yard at 4:00 a.m., wondering why the teens would have walked all the way down that street to the last house in the cul-de-sac, wondering what ballistics tests will show, anxious to get answers about everything.
"I hope that someone can come forward and let us know what’s going on. Because this is, like, devastating to my family. There are three teens that are dead, now," she said. “And we all loved them.”
The homeowner, getting word to 11Alive through a neighbor, said he is not ready to comment.
The sheriff said his office is still investigating, to decide whether the homeowner will face any charges or if this will turn out to be a case of self-defense.
11Alive Legal Analyst Latonia Hines explained how the "stand your ground law" works.
"Basically what stand your ground allows for is that you can defend your habitation, property and others with possibly using deadly force," she said.
"It's going to require a lot of investigation here," she added. " You've got to look at the facts you've got to look at they're talking to the individual who did the shooting, you're also looking at the shell casings to figure out if this really matches what the witness statements are."