LAWRENCEVILLE — Leevon Young told Lawrenceville police that he opened fire at Kroger that day — wounding two strangers — because people were out to get him. An old rival, he said, had tried to kill him in New York, and the rival’s minions were certainly still trying to do the same.
At least one detective believes Young was on drugs.
Lawrenceville police Det. Wes Anderson testified during a preliminary hearing Thursday at the Gwinnett County jail, laying out what authorities believe transpired before, during and after Young allegedly fired multiple shots near the entrance of the Kroger store at 455 Grayson Highway. The Feb. 10 incident left two women wounded.
Anderson said security footage showed Young, his wife and another woman standing in the grocery store’s vestibule — the area between doors, where shopping carts are kept — for 55 minutes before the 43-year-old suspect pushed his wife away, pulled a .25-caliber handgun from his pants and began firing.
Young, who reportedly admitted to the shooting, was aiming for a man he thought was “after him” but hit the man’s mother instead, Anderson said. Sixty-six-year-old Audrey Sabala, in a motorized cart due a recent kidney transplant surgery, was shot in the stomach and dragged herself outside the store as police arrived.
Ana-Bel Mojica, a 19-year-old waiting for a taxi, was shot in the leg and fled to the nearby produce section.
In the mayhem that ensued, Young, his wife and the other woman made it to an upstairs adminstrative area, possibly ushered there by an employee who hadn’t seen the shooting. Young then fired another shot in the direction of an employee hiding in an office, Anderson testified.
The trio was attempting to file out of the crowded store along with everyone else before witnesses pointed them out. Young was detained without further incident.
According to information gleaned from police interviews with him, his wife and the acquaintance with them at the scene, Young had been acting peculiar since the previous day.
According to Anderson, Young repeatedly told police that “people were trying to get him” and that he had moved to Lawrenceville after a run-in with a “longtime rival” in New York. He thought he was being followed and “they” were trying to kill him.
Afraid someone would break into his home on Crosshill Trail, Young allegedly stayed up the entire night before the shooting. At one point, he ventured into the front yard carrying a shotgun, Anderson said.
“There’s no evidence showing that anybody was trying to kill him,” Anderson said.
Young, his wife and their friend reportedly left home after the couple’s daughter got on the school bus on the morning of Feb. 10. They were spotted by multiple witnesses walking between the QuikTrip and McDonald’s on Grayson Highway, Anderson said.
The scene of the shooting is located roughly halfway between those locations.
Young’s wife told police that, when the trio entered the Kroger store, she was “hugging on” her husband because he “didn’t seem like himself” and was “real nervous.
“She said she hadn’t seen him act that way in 22 years,” Anderson said.
Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge Bob Mitchum bound over Thursday the four charges levied against Young — three counts of aggravated assault and one of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The case will now move to superior court.
Young has four previous felony convictions and was arrested twice in 2013, once on second-degree assault charges and once on a weapons charge. All six incidents occurred in New York.
Anderson said in court Thursday that he believes Young was “on something” during the shooting, basing his opinion on the defendant’s demeanor and “way of describing things” during interviews.
“The whole thing was just kind of weird,” he said.
Defense attorney Lucas Harsh, though, asked Anderson if he could tell the difference between someone under the influence of drugs and someone with mental health issues. The detective said he could not.
Young is being held without bond.