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Crime News Sins of the South

Robber Shot Gun Activist 8 Times: "He Was a Hurricane of Violence and Death"

What was the motive for the brutal slaying? “It was solely for the money,” a prosecutor told Sins of the South.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

On June 15, 2018, the early-morning peace blanketing Savannah, Georgia was shattered by gunshots.

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Watch Sins of the South on Oxygen Sundays at 7/6c and next day on Peacock. 

Following the shots, a neighbor found local community activist Shawntray “Puff” Grant “slumped over” by his truck in his apartment-complex parking space.

“I started screaming until I couldn’t scream anymore,” Shante Brown Hill told Sins of the South, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.

First responders determined that Grant, 32, was dead on the scene. He’d been shot multiple times, WSAV, an NBC affiliate reported.

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Who was Shawntray Grant?

Grant, a beloved local hero, founded the Bullhorn Crew to fight gun violence. He was a big man with a personality to match.

Word of his murder spread quickly through Savannah. Mayor Van Johnson, then a city councilman, recalled the slaying. “There were tears,” he said. “There was anger.”

The crime scene was processed. “He had his wallet and his phone in his hand,” said Matthew Breedon, lead prosecutor, Chatham County.

Grant had spent the night on the Emerald Princess, a casino boat, investigators learned. He arrived just after 6 p.m. with three women, including Nelaunte Grant, who was unrelated to the victim.

“We learned that that evening, Mr. Grant had actually won upwards of $12,000,” said Benjamin Valdivieso, a now-retired Savannah Police Department detective. That money was not recovered at the scene.

Shawntray Grant’s Missing Gun

Shawntray Grant featured on Sins Of The South episode 107

Investigators interviewed the women who’d been on the boat with Grant, which turned up a surprising revelation: One woman told officials Shawntray had recently purchased a Springfield pistol. “She mentioned him taking it and leaving it in the vehicle when they went into the casino boat,” said Breedon.

Detectives learned that Grant legally acquired the firearm. But, why did an anti-gun activist carry a gun?

“He would routinely go to the rougher areas of Savannah and advocate for an end to gun violence,” said Breedon.

In addition, when he gambled, “he won thousands of dollars all the time,” said journalist Trish Williford. “He wanted to protect himself.”

However, Grant’s gun wasn’t found at the crime scene. Investigators got a warrant to search his apartment, where they found an empty gun case.

“At that point, we believed [the firearm] had been taken in the robbery,” said Breedon.

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Searching for the Motive

Investigators believed that Grant’s casino windfall could be tied to his slaying. But they also considered that his activism work put a target on his back.

“Did somebody retaliate against him?” said Breedon. “Looking through his Facebook page, there was nothing of any value.”

As police worked the case, people from all walks of life turned out for Grant’s large funeral. “It was like something you would see in a movie,” said Detric Leggett, a Bullhorn Crew member.

Autopsy Reveals an “Ambush”

The autopsy findings showed that Grant was struck by eight bullets, five of them in the back. “It showed that he was ambushed,” said Breedon. “This was not a stick-up.”

“We knew that this was a set-up,” Breedon added. “We just didn’t know who was involved.”

Investigators reviewed surveillance tapes from the casino, the Emerald Princess. What they saw contradicted what witness Nelaunte Grant told them.

She said she’d been playing slots. But the footage showed her standing behind the victim, observing him play blackjack and periodically texting on her phone. 

Investigators then looked into Nelaunte's background and learned that she had a prior criminal record. When interviewed by detectives, she had little information, only sayng that she was invited by one of Shawntray Grant’s friends to go, according to Breedon. She was released but remained a person of interest.

Local crime spree linked to murder case

Following Grant’s murder, there was a spike in shootings in Savannah — there were six of them in about eight weeks.

The recovery of a gun in an August 7 shooting “led to an avalanche of evidence” in the Grant murder case, Breedon said.

While working the incident that led to the apprehension of two suspects, Valdivieso recovered a gun from a grocery store floor. It was a .9mm Springfield that fit the description of Grant’s missing gun.

“I immediately recognized that it had an extended magazine. Thirty rounds could be shot in a matter of seconds,” Valdivieso said.

Osha Dunham becomes a suspect

One of the suspects, 24-year-old repeat offender, Osha Dunham, had been wounded during the incident.

“He had a long criminal history, drug charges, gun charges, aggravated assault,” said Breedon. “He was progressing in his criminal activity.”

Detectives worked to answer two questions: Had Dunham had possession of the gun found in the store? Did it match shell casings found at other spree shootings?

While being treated at the hospital, Dunham was interviewed by detectives and his phone was seized. A warrant was obtained to review his calls and texts.

Meanwhile, the recovered gun was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, where it was swabbed for DNA. The serial number was logged into e-Trace, an online firearms tracking system.

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The e-Trace result showed that the gun belonged to Shawntray Grant. Investigators had to wait three months for DNA results.

DNA findings showed that “Osha Dunham did, in fact, have possession of that firearm,” said Valdivieso. Detectives placed Dunham and the stolen gun at all six recent shooting locations.

But when investigators tried to place Dunham at the scene of Grant’s murder, they hit a roadblock. No shell casings recovered there were from Grant’s gun.

Nelaunte Grant tied to Osha Dunham

Osha Dunham and Nelaunte Grant Episode Sins Of The South 107

However, detectives could place Dunham at the Grant crime scene through his phone records.

A break in the case came when investigators determined that Dunham had had contact with Nelaunte Grant.

After getting a warrant for her phone, they were able to piece together the events that took place before Grant’s murder by the two conspirators.

“Nelaunte called Osha Dunham at 1:51 am. and two to three minutes later, Shawntray Grant was murdered,” said Breedon.

Nelaunte Grant was taken into custody. She refused to cooperate with police and give information about Dunham.

“She thought the risk of going to trial was safer than the risk of the wrath of Osha Dunham,” said Breedon.

Suspects Arrested and Tried for Murder

On March 13, 2019, Osha Dunham and Nelaunte Grant were indicted for Grant’s murder. The joint trial began nine months later.

Prosecutors presented their theory of the events, arguing that Nelaunte Grant likely watched the victim during his winning streak. “From her prior dealings with Osha Dunham, she knew that he … could commit a robbery,” said Breedon.

“Once they left the boat, she began texting and calling Dunham,” he said, adding that the suspect was lying in wait when Grant came home.

After Grant’s slaying, Dunham posted images of himself fanning $100 bills. The motive “was solely for the money,” said Breedon.

After killing Grant and stealing his gun, Dunham used the firearm in a summer shooting spree, prosecutors said. “He was a hurricane of violence and death,” said Breedon.

Osha Dunham and Nelaunte Grant were found guilty by a jury. He received a life sentence without the chance of parole, plus 315 consecutive years incarceration Savannah Morning News reported. Grant also got a life sentence and is eligible for parole after 30 years.

Learn more about the “Savannah’s Deadly Bet” case on Sins of the South, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.  

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