A fifth grade teacher in DeKalb County, Georgia, has been charged with four counts of murder during an investigation into the 2016 deaths of siblings Tatiyana Coates, 11, and Daveon Coates, 15.
Michael De’Sean White has been removed from his teaching job at Toney Elementary School while the investigation continues. Authorities say a police sketch of a man at the murder scene was used to build a case against the teacher.
Clayton County police Maj. Tina Daniel cited the evidence, saying “The details, as far as the sketch and the photo, are incredibly similar.”
Daniel stopped short of saying whether investigators believe White actually pulled the trigger in the killings. But she did add that “It is still an open and pending investigation at this time.”
White started working at the school as a paraprofessional roughly a year ago, and assumed his teaching position in August. He is allegedly a member of the Crips, a well-known street gang.
Daniel said, “It kicks you in the gut that someone who’s responsible for our children on a daily basis could possibly be involved with a heinous crime like this.”
At least one other arrest was made in connection with the killings.
The two Coates children were murdered by suspected gang members who invaded their Jonesboro, Georgia, home on October 22, 2016, searching for another 15-year-old who had already fled. Four other children were in the home at the time (around 5am), and one called 911 to report the break-in; their parents were reportedly out for the night.
A gun was recovered from another gang-related shooting in Tennessee the day after the killings, which authorities believe was linked to the crime. Daniel said that “At this time, we do believe the gun in Chattanooga was involved, somehow related in the incident. We are still awaiting the final ballistics information.”
Investigators believe that the 15-year-old being sought by the alleged gang members was offered a place to stay —along with his mother and four siblings — by Tatiyana and Daveon’s mother. According to Chattanooga Times Free Press, the teen had run away back to Tennessee and was linked to a shootout in Chattanooga the day after the Jonesboro killings.
It is believed that gang members were after the teen because he was in possession of their weapons.