SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The City of Savannah is on the cusp of partnering with federal prosecutors to go after people committing gun violence.
Mayor Van Johnson announced the potential partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office Tuesday, in front of victims’ families.
Kenneth Frazier and Madiha Clarke are still seeking justice for their son Kaleel who was gunned down at Savannah State University in 2018.
Phillip Burke is serving time for bringing a gun onto campus, but not for killing Clarke, whose parents say their son’s murderer is still out there.
“The district attorney passed this case over,” Frazier said. “There was no investigation in this case.”
The Clarkes were at City Hall Tuesday to support the mayor’s announcement of a potential new partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to focus on guns and violent crime in Savannah.
“That position will be funded through the city attorney’s office, but the position will reside in the U.S. Attorney’s office,” Johnson said.
The mayor said it’s a way to help an overwhelmed state and local legal system and to deter violent crime through the promise of federal prison sentences, where there is no parole.
”If you go away, you can get to go away anywhere in the country where mama can’t come see you, grandma can’t come to see you, and I want people to think about that before they start pulling triggers,” Johnson said.
Johnson says the pressure of facing a federal sentence could get more suspects to “sing.”
“Like the Temptations and the Four Tops, and when I say sing they start to talk,” Johnson said. “And so, I’m hoping that from that we’ll be able to solve some of these other unsolved homicides in our city.”
The Special Assistant U.S. Attorney position must be approved by city council. Johnson plans to have it on the agenda for this Thursday’s meeting.
Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones told WSAV she supports an Assistant U.S. Attorney focused on Savannah, as long as that person doesn’t come from her office.
She also said she feels for Kaleel Clarke’s family, but the evidence didn’t support further charges.