Detective: Victim was a gangster

LAWRENCEVILLE - Rafael "8 Ball" Watson, shot and killed last week near a Lawrenceville Citgo station, was an upper-tier member of a violent street gang called 2-4-3, a Lawrenceville set of the nationwide Bloods, a detective testified Friday.

The man accused of killing him, 19-year-old Brandon Mullins, said he thought Watson was pulling a gun on him and his mother as they walked home from a beauty shop near Hurricane Shoals Road.

As Mullins is incarcerated on murder and weapons charges, 2-4-3 gangsters have issued threats to his mother, Mullins' attorney said. The whole web of finger-pointing and violence started over $250 in drugs Watson lent to the teen, who was tardy in paying him back, Lawrenceville police Detective Tim Ashley testified.

Chief Magistrate Judge George Hutchinson found evidence Friday to bind both charges against Mullins - murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime - to Superior Court. A Grand Jury will hear the case in coming months. The Lawrenceville teen remains without bond at the Gwinnett County Jail.

Mullins allegedly fired four shots at Watson, striking him twice, as he sat in the driver's seat of his Dodge Charger in the parking lot of the Lawrenceville Trading Post. One bullet struck a major artery and Watson later bled to death at Gwinnett Medical Center. He managed to drive a short distance from the scene until he struck a utility truck headed west on Hurricane Shoals Road, police said.

Services were held for Watson, 27, on Thursday at a Lawrenceville funeral home. He was buried in Lawrenceville's East Shadowlawn Memorial Gardens.

The afternoon of March 27 didn't start out violently.

Mullins, his mother and a young relative went for a walk to a beauty salon, never expecting to cross paths with Watson, the detective said.

Watson confronted two friends of the teen's who were walking nearby, questioning them about Mullins' whereabouts and threatening to "come see him," Ashley said. By chance, Watson came across Mullins outside a Citgo gas station at the intersection of Hurricane Shoals and Collins Hill roads.

After the two exchanged words, Mullins began to walk away as his mother offered to pay his debt to Watson, who the detective called a notorious drug dealer.

Watson threatened the teen by saying, "Just 'cause your mama's here don't mean I won't reach out and touch you,'" Ashley said. Mullins and two others, including his mother, said they thought Watson then reached for a gun, and Mullins opened fire. Police found no weapons in the vehicle, Ashley said.

Much of the incident is caught on a parking lot surveillance video recently set up to catch people illegally dumping trash in the business' Dumpster, Ashley said.