LAWRENCEVILLE — A few ticks after midnight, four men in ski masks stormed through an unlocked basement door while a girl was sitting on a couch with her boyfriend, who was playing Xbox. One robber reportedly carried a baseball bat, another a black, semi-automatic pistol.
These orders rang out:
“Everybody down, everybody down!”
One robber hit the woman, 22, in the lip and forced her to the floor by her hair, while the gun-brandishing man bashed the boyfriend about seven times. The woman threatened to call police and the masked intruders ran off, according to a Gwinnett police report.
Their most valuable take was the man’s diamond-studded Bulavo watch, worth $400.
The May 2 incident in Lawrenceville’s Stillwood subdivision has spelled serious trouble for three suspects now in custody. One suspect is the cousin of Atlanta Falcons All-Pro wide-receiver Roddy White, who gained recognition for essentially adopting the troubled high school student in 2007.
Both victims gave police the name Ali White, now 21, whom the female recognized as a former classmate at Mill Creek High School. Hours later, mutual friends told them the alleged crew was overhead bragging about breaking into a home and stealing a watch. The couple came forward with that information.
Both victims claimed to recognize White by his voice and bulk. He’s listed in jail records as 6 feet tall and 280 pounds.
“It looked like (White’s) eyes,” the injured man told police. He initially declined treatment but was later hospitalized when his condition worsened, the report says.
Police believe White, 21, robbed the victim of his watch and pistol-whipped him several times, “causing severe lacerations,” his arrest warrants states. He’s charged with two counts of armed robbery and possession of a weapon during a crime.
Armed robbery convictions in Georgia carry a mandatory 10 years in prison.
Before White’s arrest Monday, Gwinnett police had charged Jovane McDermott, an alleged accomplice. The third suspect, Carl Copeland, was arrested Thursday on similar charges. A fourth suspect has not been apprehended.
All are being held without bond at the Gwinnett County Jail.
White’s attorney, Lawrenceville-based Tony Taylor, could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday. Roddy White didn’t return a request for comment left on his voicemail.
Roddy White sparked interest from regional and national media in 2007 when he took his cousin, then 17, and his brother, Tyler Moore, 15, under his wing, allowing them to live at his Chateau Elan home after things had turned south in Charleston, S.C., where they’d all grown up in humble surroundings.
“They needed someone who would always be there for them, and I didn’t think they were getting that,” White told ESPN.com in 2008. “I wanted to take responsibility and guide them in a family direction.”
Mill Creek head football coach Shannon Jarvis remembers the arrangement.
“That’s what it was, Roddy was taking care of (him),” said Jarvis, who briefly coached the younger White after he transferred to Gwinnett his junior year.
A former Mill Creek employee told the Daily Post this week Ali White was known to drive his cousin’s bright gold Chrysler 300 — emblazoned with an air-brushed Falcon logo — to school. Roddy White once told Atlanta Magazine the paint job alone cost $10,000.
Ali White, listed in jail records as a P.F. Chang’s employee, is scheduled for a probable cause hearing Friday in Gwinnett Magistrate Court, where a judge will determine if police have sufficient evidence for the charges to stick.
— Sports editor Will Hammock contributed to this article.