ATLANTA (AP) — The family of a 17-year-old fatally shot at an Atlanta apartment complex — trying to draw parallels to the Trayvon Martin case in Florida — called Tuesday for the arrest of a security guard who killed their son. The guard and authorities say the shooting was justified.
Canard Arnold was shot in the back on Dec. 31. Christopher Chestnut, an attorney for Arnold's parents, said the case is similar to the Feb. 26 shooting of the 17-year-old Martin in a town house community in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman, the complex's neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman has not been arrested. The Martin shooting has been labeled as "vigilante justice" and has ignited a national firestorm fueled by accusations of racism.
"This is very Trayvon Martin-like," Chestnut said. He referred to Arnold's shooter, Christopher Hambrick, as "a rogue, vigilante security guard."
"He sees Mr. Arnold running down the street and, like a predator, tracks him down," Chestnut said.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Hambrick emphatically dismissed any attempt to draw parallels between the two shootings.
"With the Trayvon Martin thing, I know they think their son was in the same predicament," Hambrick said. "Canard Arnold was not Trayvon Martin ... I'm not like Zimmerman. I know when to use my gun."
Authorities said Arnold, who was black, was engaged in a gunfight with another man, 22-year-old, Anthony Hines, on the night of Dec. 30. Hambrick, who is white, was working as a security guard in a nearby apartment complex when he drove up and encountered the two men.
Hambrick confirmed authorities' version of events, adding that he had been working at a nearby complex for five months and was en route to a nearby convenience store when he observed the confrontation between Arnold and Hines.
"Believing that gunfire was aimed in his direction, the security guard fired shots, shooting and killing the victim who died on the scene with a weapon just inches away from his hand," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said in a statement issued Tuesday. "At this time, it appears to us the actions of the security guard were justified. If subsequent evidence reveals intentions to the contrary, as in every case, the District Attorney's Office will be led by the facts."
Atlanta Police Department Spokesman Carlos Campos issued a similar statement, saying that "a weapon was found near Arnold and four rounds were discovered to have been discharged."
Hines was arrested and charged with felony murder "for his role as an active shooter in the gunfight leading to Arnold's shooting," according to Campos' statement. Howard said Hines was indicted Friday by a Fulton County grand jury.
Chestnut offers a different version of events. While he said a gun was found near Arnold, he did not confirm whether the gun belonged to the teen.
Chestnut also said Arnold was running away after an altercation with another man at the time he was shot, and that the teen did not confront or threaten the security guard. He added that Hambrick was not employed by the apartment complex where the shooting occurred.
Hambrick maintained that he did not ask to be put in a situation to shoot Arnold. He said he initially thought of trying to help Arnold when he saw Hines open fire.
"I didn't know he had a firearm," Hambrick said, referring to Arnold. "When he pulled it out, there was nothing I could do but warn him. He didn't heed the warning."
Hambrick said he was not disciplined by Shepperson, but left the company in February and is now employed with another private security company.
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