2 teenagers arrested in gang killing

Victor Ramirez

Victor Ramirez

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Police have implicated two Lawrenceville teens in a Saturday night slaying that investigators say was gang-related.

Victor Kenneth Ramirez, 18, and a 14-year-old accomplice are charged with murder in the death of Thomas Branch, 58.

Ramirez and the victim lived in separate units at the Deauville Apartments off Langley Drive, where the incident happened between 10 and 11 p.m., Lawrenceville police Sgt. Brad Grove said.

Grove said Ramirez and the boy robbed Branch in his home but didn't force their way in, as Ramirez knew the victim. Grove wouldn't say how Branch was killed or what items were stolen.

"We have a good idea (what was stolen), but we can't release that," he said Tuesday.

A neighbor called police to report a robbery and people running from the scene. Police found the victim in his apartment, where he was pronounced dead. Ramirez and the other suspect were arrested at Ramirez's apartment within 30 minutes, Grove said.

Grove said both teens are members of the "Rollin 60" street gang, a subset of the nationwide Crips gang with a presence throughout metro Atlanta and other states. Like their infamous brethren, Rollin 60 members are characterized by blue and black clothing, he said.

The killing doesn't appear to be retaliatory, as the victim had no gang ties, nor does it appear to be part of an initiation ritual, Grove said.

"This is the highest you can get in criminal street gang activity," he said. "It doesn't appear to be (related to initiation) but we can't rule that out."

Investigators expect to press gang participation charges against both teens.

Jail records list Ramirez as a Central Gwinnett High School student, but a spokesperson for the system said Tuesday he's not enrolled with the district.

Ramirez is also charged with failure to appear, stemming from a traffic citation, Grove said. He remains jailed without bond; the other suspect is being held at the Regional Youth Detention Center, where he's charged as an adult.

Grove said a third person questioned in the killing was not charged.