2015 pool party shooter to be released on bond, immunity hearing outcome pending review

2015 pool party shooter to be released on bond, immunity hearing outcome pending review

Fayette County Superior Court Judge Chris Edwards has approved bond for the defendant in a June 2015 northern Fayette County pool party shooting, but as of Tuesday afternoon’s press deadline, Terrence Kyreef Montgomery, the shooter, was still locked up in the Fayette County Jail where he has resided since six days after the fatal shooting took place.

Montgomery, a Fulton County resident, was arrested June 19, 2015 and charged with Murder and four counts of Aggravated Assault for his alleged involvement in a pool party shooting that took place the previous Saturday night, June 13, at a residence just inside Fayette County along Hwy. 279. The district attorney’s office did not, however, seek indictment on the Murder charge, and instead secured indictments on the four Aggravated Assault charges.

According to Fayette County Sheriff’s Department reports, Montgomery, who was 18 at the time, and scores of other young people were attending a pool party at the residence when it was abruptly shut down by a host, and attendees were asked to leave. In the driveway, an altercation allegedly took place between Montgomery, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of his mother’s black Jaguar sedan, and 19-year-old Wali Clanton of Stockbridge, who was standing outside the car.

One side of the story is that Clanton approached Montgomery, drew his gun and pointed it at Montgomery, and then opened the driver’s door. According to that version of events, Montgomery retrieved a handgun from within the car and quickly shot Clanton, but then he reportedly continued firing in that same general direction, striking four other people.

Another side of the story is that Clanton had no weapon.

The case was headed for trial, but defense attorney Brian Steel filed a motion for an immunity hearing, which is a sort of pre-trial bench trial in which the judge, in this case Superior Court Judge Chris Edwards, will decide if he believes the case should be decided in a jury trial or if the charges should be dropped.

That immunity hearing took place Thursday and Friday, and at its conclusion Judge Edwards ordered Steel and Assistant District Attorney David McDade to read over soon-to-be-released transcripts of the hearing and make their written arguments to him within 30 days of receiving the transcripts. Judge Edwards said he would issue a decision on immunity within 30 days of receiving written briefs from both attorneys.

After the immunity hearing ended late Friday afternoon, a verbal altercation erupted in the parking lot of the Fayette County Justice Center, which is where the hearing took place. According to Montgomery’s family members, friends of the late Wali Clanton were taking pictures of their vehicles, including license plates, and threatening to shoot them. Eventually, the crowd dispersed, and the antagonists fled the scene, some racing vehicles through the parking lot before leaving.

[Following is the full version of our Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016 print edition story about the immunity hearing. It was erroneously cut short in some editions, for which we apologize.]

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Immunity hearing held in pool party shooting case

By Danny Harrison
Danny@Fayette-News.com

An immunity hearing for pool party shooting suspect Terrance Montgomery continued Friday afternoon in Fayette County Superior Court, though it was not known as of press time whether a decision would be reached by the end of Friday.

Montgomery, a Fulton County resident, was arrested June 19, 2015 and charged with Murder and four counts of Aggravated Assault for his alleged involvement in a pool party shooting that took place the previous Saturday night, June 13, at a residence just inside Fayette County along Hwy. 279. The district attorney’s office did not, however, seek indictment on the Murder charge, and instead secured indictments on the four Aggravated Assault charges.

According to Fayette County Sheriff’s Department reports, Montgomery, who was 18 at the time, and scores of other young people were attending a pool party at the residence when it was abruptly shut down by a host, and attendees were asked to leave. In the driveway, an altercation allegedly took place between Montgomery, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of his mother’s black Jaguar sedan, and 19-year Wali Clanton of Stockbridge, who was standing outside the car.

One side of the story is that Clanton approached Montgomery, drew his gun and pointed it at Montgomery, and then opened the driver’s door. According to that version of events, Montgomery retrieved a handgun from within the car and quickly shot Clanton, but then he reportedly continued firing in that same general direction, striking four other people.

Another side of the story is that Clanton had no weapon.

The case was headed for trial, but defense attorney Brian Steel filed a motion for an immunity hearing, which is a sort of pre-trial bench trial in which the judge, in this case Superior Court Judge Chris Edwards, will decide if he believes the case should be decided in a jury trial or if the charges should be dropped.

Lionel Kennedy, one of the late Wali Clanton’s close friends who was with him at the pool party, testified Friday that he was not aware of Clanton having any gun at all. He said the two of them walked down the driveway to put Kennedy’s coat in his friend’s car, but then Clanton was approached by Montgomery who had rolled the Jaguar up to Clanton. Kennedy said Clanton and Montgomery could be heard in “a heated conversation”. Kennedy said he walked past Clanton and Montgomery just moments before the first shot, which killed Clanton, rung out.

“I looked back, I saw Wali drop, and I turned to run,” Kennedy told the court.

Kennedy is one of the other four victims of gunfire that night.

“I didn’t know I got shot until my leg stiffened up and I fell,” Kennedy said. He had been shot in the hip, he said.

According to reports, a female victim was shot in the ankle, another male was shot in the buttocks, and the fourth victim, a male, was shot in the calf.

Kennedy acknowledged he couldn’t tell exactly where the shots were coming from, but he said he saw a young man who appeared to be either standing or sitting in the front passenger window and pointing a handgun over the roof of the car. The front-seat passenger of Montgomery’s vehicle was later identified as Demarcus Morgan.

According to Detective Clint Patton, who also testified Friday, Morgan and Montgomery were both tested later on the night of the pool party, and both were found to have gunpowder residue on their hands.

Judge Edwards said one of his concerns was determining if indeed all of the gunfire victims were shot by Montgomery or if perhaps one or more could have been hit by a different gunman.

Kennedy said he scrambled for cover behind a nearby car after he was shot, and he said he could hear multiple shots coming from what seemed to him to be at least two different guns.

Detective Patton told the court he was dispatched to the scene of the crime on that Saturday night and that he arrived just before midnight. However, he said Montgomery and Morgan had fled the scene already. He said he later caught up with them at a shopping center further north inside Fulton County, but he didn’t immediately arrest anyone.

The detective also said witnesses at the crime scene, which he described as “chaos”, were generally uncooperative and swore at him and other officers as they attempted to gather information.

Visit www.Fayette-News.com and see Wednesday’s print editions of Fayette County News and Today in Peachtree City for updates on this story.

Danny Harrison

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.