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Masked Shooters Killed Atlanta Bishop’s Brother Who Was Trying To Protect His Family
Jerrick Jackson was known to be a member of an Atlanta megachurch dynasty. Was his connection to the church the reason he was targeted in a robbery gone wrong?
Churches have always played a leading role in Atlanta, but in 2013, a crime shook the community: The murder of a member of a mega-ministry dynasty in the affluent neighborhood of Riverside sent shockwaves across the city and far beyond.
The case began with a 911 call made just after midnight on May 7, 2013, reporting shots fired at the residence of Jerrick Jackson, 47, in the affluent neighborhood of Riverside.
“He was shot in the torso area, it was multiple shots,” Richard Randolph, former gang investigator, Fulton County DA, told “The Real Murders of Atlanta,” airing Sundays at 8/7c on Oxygen. Jerrick, the younger brother of megachurch pastor Wiley Jackson, was rushed to the hospital.
Police spoke with his fiancé, Kimberly Little, who was with the victim when he returned home in his Porsche. She said several men who’d been following them in a vehicle robbed them at gunpoint of the valuables they were carrying. The men then forced their way inside the house, where Little’s 18-year-old daughter, Anbiya Mitchell, was upstairs. When the invaders tried to go upstairs, Jerrick blocked their way and was shot.
Little and Mitchell couldn’t identify the masked assailants. They could only tell investigators there were at least four Black men between the ages of 18 and 24 in hoodies, according to AB Calhoun, a retired Atlanta PD homicide detective.
Investigators collected evidence at the crime scene, including fingerprints and shell casings. They also alerted Little’s financial institutions to be on the lookout for activity on her stolen credit cards and checks.
Tragically, Jerrick died at the hospital. “It was like I left my body,” said his brother Rodney Jackson. “I was there and not there.”
Due to the prominence of the family, news of the crime spread quickly throughout Atlanta. Jerrick’s older brother, Wiley Jackson, had founded Gospel Tabernacle Church.
“Everyone knew who Bishop Wiley Jackson was,” Maria Boynton, former news anchor, WYAY Radio, told producers.
Jerrick was low-key about having a famous sibling, but police considered that the link may have played a role in the crime.
Early into the investigation, police received surveillance footage of a woman attempting to cash one of Little’s stolen checks at a nearby bank. When police tracked her down she told them an unidentified man gave her the checkbook. She admitted she had a history of passing checks but her alibi for her whereabouts at the time of the murder was confirmed, so she was only booked for ID theft.
Investigators focused their efforts on Jerrick's neighborhood. Security footage from a residential camera showed a black Ford Mustang in the area at the time of the shooting. Detectives searched for stolen vehicles and found a Mustang had been carjacked days earlier.
A witness had called at that time to report that young men were speeding around an apartment complex that was located near Jerrick Jackson’s home. The caller told authorities the apartment the men went into after getting out of the car. A young woman in that residence denied being involved, but gave them the name of her boyfriend, Demetrius Morgan. Investigators learned that he was 16 and went by the nickname Meat Meat. To locate him, authorities relied on the media to spread the word.
On May 10, Morgan reached out to police after seeing himself on the news. He denied having anything to do with the murder but admitted he’d been out that night with other young men he knew as Geno, Tre-Tre, and Big Poppa.
Morgan was released, and detectives focused on uncovering the real names and identities of the individuals. Once again, they used the media to find out.
At the same time, the stolen black Mustang was located and scoured for evidence. Fingernail clippings were among items recovered and bagged as evidence from the carjacked Mustang.
In addition to the media spreading the word about the case, Bishop Wiley Jackson was making his own appeals on behalf of his family from the pulpit, according to “The Real Murders of Atlanta.” Between the media and the religious leader, investigators caught a break and identified the persons of interest.
“Someone actually called us with the names,” said Calhoun. They were Geno Lewis, 19, Montravious Bradley, 17, and Alejandro Pitts, 17.
Two weeks into the case, detectives tracked down Bradley, who lawyered up and refused to speak with them. Lewis had gone into hiding. Pitts, meanwhile, agreed to talk about his whereabouts the night of the murder. He said he was with his girlfriend at the time of the crime.
Investigators obtained warrants and focused on the men’s cell phone records to trace movements that could tie them to the crime.
“We got hits off a two of the suspects’ cell phones at the time of the murder,” investigators said. “They were pinging off the cell phone tower closest to where Jerrick Jackson lived, so we had them in the area at that time.”
In August, Morgan, Lewis, Bradley, and Pitt were arrested.
Unlike the other three men who continued to deny their involvement, Morgan cracked and told what happened on the night Jerrick Jackson was shot. He also named a fifth man who was involved: Felton Lovejoy, 19.
Morgan said after they had the stolen car, they followed Jackson because they liked his Porsche. Morgan said he waited in the Mustang while the other four men forced Jerrick and Kimberly Little into the house. His knowledge of details made his statement credible, detectives said.
“I heard a gunshot,” Morgan is heard telling police in the taped interview. “I didn’t know … who it was got shot.”
Shortly before getting ready to go to trial, DNA evidence for the fingernail clippings inside that stolen vehicle showed they belonged to Lovejoy and Bradley, said Randolph.
In exchange for his testimony in court, Pitts agreed to a plea deal for 25 years without parole.
“It was not a walk in the park,” said Jackson Park, retired senior assistant district attorney for Fulton County.
Felton Lovejoy and Montravious Bradley pleaded guilty to murdering Jackson, reported 11alive.com. They both received life in prison. In a separate trial, Geno Lewis was handed a 25-year sentence for armed robbery.
When Demetrius Morgan, who was found guilty of robbery, was to be sentenced, Bishop Wiley Jackson and Rodney Jackson spoke on his behalf and asked for leniency.
“We can't preach this stuff and talk about it and not live it,” said Rodney Jackson.
Morgan was sentenced to 20 years, followed by five years on armed robbery and weapons charges for his role in a high-profile home invasion last year, reported ajc.com.
Jerrick Jackson’s family now lives with the loss. "I can honestly put him in a book with heroes," Mitchell said of Jackson, according to 11alive.com. "I really do feel like he's a hero. He's my hero."
To learn more about the case, watch “The Real Murders of Atlanta,” airing Sundays at 8/7c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.