LAWRENCEVILLE — A drug deal gone awry that resulted in a triple homicide in Lawrenceville Wednesday marked the end of a bloody first two months of 2012 in Gwinnett, 60 days that saw several multiple shootings and a murder total already nearly halfway toward last year’s tally.
Gwinnett County police investigators believe shooters on the other end of a cocaine transaction took the lives of three men inside a vacant apartment on Cannonball Court on Wednesday: Farris Allen Weston, 44, of Lawrenceville; Brian Lamont White, 36, of Richmond, Va.; and James Edward Isiac, 64, also of Richmond.
After identifying the victims and speaking with their families, Gwinnett detectives were able to relay information to North Carolina authorities regarding a vehicle associated with the crime, police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said.
The vehicle was ultimately stopped by police in Charlotte. Two of the three men inside the car were ultimately charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine, but not with murder, Smith said.
It’s believed the two men — Rashad Cornelius Johnson, 31, and Raheem Richardson, 40, both from Richmond, Va. — were “on the same team” as the victims. Investigators believe Johnson and Richardson, both convicted felons, knew a drug deal involving cocaine was scheduled but were not involved in the shooting.
“We don’t believe they were present at the apartment or in the driveway or anything like that when this shooting occurred,” Smith said.
Smith was unsure Thursday morning if drugs or money were found in their vehicle. They were presumably on their way home to Virginia when they were detained after a traffic stop, Smith said.
He said it was unclear which side was buying and which was selling. Few details were released regarding the actual homicides.
Detectives had leads in the case, but Smith wouldn’t go as far as saying suspects had been identified.
“We don’t know who or how many people are involved on the other side of this that did the shooting,” Smith said, “but something went bad and one of the parties shot the other party.”
No drugs or weapons were recovered in the apartment on Cannonball Court, in a neighborhood Smith said police respond to “on a fairly regular basis.” None of the victims lived in the apartment.
Wednesday’s events are believed to push the year’s murder tally to 12, after the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office last year reported 29 — a five-year low after homicides peaked at an all-time high of 50 in 2007.
The homicides made up the third crime scene with multiple bodies this year. Last Tuesday, Norcross police were on the scene of an apparent murder-suicide at a well-known Korean spa off Buford Highway. It’s believed gunman Jeong Soo Paek shot and killed his two sisters and their husbands before turning the gun on himself.
On Jan. 31, police say 23-year-old Haile Lewis opened fire during a soured drug deal at a home in Buford, and has been charged with murder in the incident that resulted in two deaths.
Other homicides in 2012 include: the Feb. 2 robbery-driven murder of Norcross High student Nick Jackson; the Jan. 31 killing of 29-year-old Demarcus Collins in Lilburn, fueled by an argument between friends; and the January incident in which Arion Henderson, 20, allegedly stabbed his grandfather to death in his Norcross apartment.