A 15-year-old boy who authorities believe was the intended target of a gang-related home invasion that left two children dead in Clayton County, Ga., on Saturday was located in Chattanooga.
Clayton County Police Chief Mike Register said police believe the suspects who entered a Jonesboro, Ga., home and shot 11-year-old Tatiyana Coates and her 15-year-old brother Daveon Coates while they were sleeping were actually looking for another 15-year-old boy who was not home.
That teenager, who has not been named, was found in Chattanooga around around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Register said, and is being questioned about the home invasion and slayings.
Two families were living in the Jonesboro home at the time of the crime, Register said. The mother of Tatiyana and Daveon was the homeowner and she had invited another family — a woman with five children — to live in the home a couple of months ago.
The 15-year-old boy who was the intended target of the home invasion was part of that second family, who moved from Tennessee, Register said.
"The 15-year-old who came with the second family got involved in gang activity here in metro Atlanta," Register said. "We believe there was an act that he committed against a local gang that made them retaliate in such a vicious manner."
The teenager was not at the Jonesboro home when the slayings happened — because he'd fled to Chattanooga, Register said.
Investigators believe the boy may have been involved in a shootout between two vehicles in the 500 block of N. Hawthorne Ave. around 4 p.m. on Sunday, a day after the Coates siblings were killed. No one was injured in that shootout, according to Chattanooga police.
"It appears that one of the local gangs that we believe was involved in the murders of the young girl and boy had traveled to Chattanooga, and the incident that occurred in Chattanooga, certainly we believe [it] was linked to the homicides that occurred here in Clayton County," Register said.
He said police wanted to locate the teenager who was the target because he has valuable information about the home invasion and because he was in danger. Authorities aren't sure how the 15-year-old traveled from Jonesboro to Chattanooga.
"Certainly we believe he has associations there in Chattanooga, we're still developing what those associations are and how he made his way from the Clayton County area to up there, and when," Register said.
The teenager is not a suspect in the double homicide, he said.
"We are doing everything we can to bring the cowards who did this to justice," he said.