ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - An early-morning police encounter ended in tragedy in Midtown Atlanta.
It all happened Thursday morning around 2 a.m. near the Shell gas station on 14th Street and Northside Drive. The messy scene spanned about a block with glass and debris all over the ground.
“I heard a loud boom,” said Lauri Reemal, a shift manager at the Krystal on 14th and Northside Drive. “It scared the customers and it really scared me too because I didn’t really know what was going on.”
Atlanta Police tell us this incident is the result of someone trying to flee officers. The suspect drove three blocks and ran a red light, hitting another vehicle and killing that driver and their passenger. That driver was an Uber driver, according to Georgia State Patrol. The three passengers in the back seat of that car were also hurt. The driver was 39-year-old Guillermo Bracho Barrios and the deceased passenger is 27-year-old Gemini Jerome Jackson.
Gemini Jackson Sr. was heartbroken to discover his son Gemini was one of the victims.
“My heart is hurting. I’m hurt, but until I see his body, I don’t have closure on it,” Jackson Sr. said.
Just after 2:30 Thursday morning, the driver of this white Toyota RAV4 spun out after slamming into an uber driver at the intersection of Northside Drive and 14th Street. Atlanta Police said the driver of the white SUV ran a red light after trying to elude a traffic stop just 37-seconds earlier.
“I’m pissed off. Your son passes and he’s doing everything the correct way in life and due to someone else’s negligence or someone else’s carelessness, he loses his life. This is hurtful,” Jackson Sr. said.
Jackson, a successful electrical engineer in Texas, was in town for work and riding in the uber with his co-workers.
“You really can’t put it into words. My son was a very polite, generous person. He didn’t meet a stranger,” Jackson Sr. said.
Jackson Sr. also said his son had returned home to celebrate his mother’s birthday and no one expected their family visit to end this way.
“My heart just fell to the floor because when you hear your kid is gone and you don’t understand why it’s just harder. It’s very, very hard,” Jackson Sr. said.
Uber says they are working to get in touch with the driver’s family and the account holder who ordered the trip. They also said they will assist law enforcement with their investigation and they have a Public Safety Team made up of former law enforcement professionals.
Troopers tell Atlanta News First that the suspects in the fleeing vehicle were also seriously injured.
Atlanta News First is working to find out why police were initially trying to pull the driver over and if they were chasing the vehicle. We’ll continue to monitor developments on this story and provide updates as they become available.
The Georgia State Patrol is investigating.
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