SPD charges suspect for 2020 deadly shooting

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga.  (WSAV) – The Savannah Police Department (SPD) has charged a suspect in a 2020 deadly shooting on Draper Street.

Dyanta Samuels, 24, now faces a murder charge in the death of Kareem Smalls, nearly one year after his fatal shooting.

“I’m extremely proud and happy with the extreme level, high level of work the men and women in the Savannah Police Department put into this investigation,” said Chief Roy Minter.

On Nov. 23, 2020, officers responded to Gwinnett Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard for a vehicle crash with injuries and discovered Smalls in the vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds. 

Dyanta Samuels

Smalls, also known as “Free Lunch Baby,” was transported to the hospital where he died as a result of his injuries.

Detectives determined the shooting occurred in the 600 block of Draper Street.

SPD says a number of things contributed to Samuel’s arrest in the investigation, including a press conference held about a month ago with Smalls’ family.

District 3 Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan worked closely with the victim’s mother, Lavinia Smalls, to help bring awareness to her son’s case.

“There is no word to explain what it means to be finally able to get some justice,” said Wilder-Bryan.

“Within a year of his mom just doing amazing things in this community for other people, we have an arrest of his alleged killer,” she added.

The alderwoman’s own son was murdered six years ago. Now, she helps families who have lost someone to violence and says there are many waiting for their loved ones’ cases to be solved.

“People just don’t know what this means when you hear that somebody’s going to be held accountable,” said Wilder-Bryan.

Savannah city officials say they’re going to continue to address violent crimes.

“If you do that type of crime here, you’re going to get arrested, we’re going to catch you,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

He added the Savannah Police Department is taking a closer look at cold cases.

“We’re going to start…re-lifting some of these cases because we know people know things,” said Johnson.

The Savannah Police Department says trust between the community and law enforcement is key to solving cases, as they need tips from the public to help in their investigations.

Samuels was already in custody at the Chatham County Detention Center on charges in connection to a drug investigation from August.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, WSAV stated the murder of Lawrence Bryan IV, Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan’s son, had not been solved, though Timone Hooper was sentenced to life in prison for his death in 2019.

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