Standing in the same vacant lot where her little brother was fatally shot six days earlier, Kate Cotrona Krumm pondered the 33-year-old East Atlanta resident’s legacy.
“He is now the face behind all those nameless people who are killed every day for no good reason,” Krumm said Friday as family, friends and neighbors gathered to mourn Patrick Cotrona’s death and defy his killers. “We all identify with him. He’s not a criminal, or a troublemaker.”
The Georgia Tech graduate was walking with two friends from his house off May Avenue to his favorite pub when two men, likely in their teens, popped out of their vehicle, demanding Cotrona’s wallet. Then, without cause or warning, they shot him once in the abdomen.
Police on Friday released a sketch of one of the suspects wanted in a pair of armed robberies that occurred roughly 30 minutes before the shooting. An APD investigator, in an email sent to Reynoldstown residents earlier this week, said there is a “strong possibility” the crimes may be connected.
“I think this is a situation where people feel powerless,” said East Atlanta resident Austin Dickson, 33. “You can’t help but think it could’ve been me.”
The suspect was described by witnesses as a young African-American male between the ages of 16 and 18, around 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10 inches tall with a slight build, medium brown complexion and little to no facial hair. He was last seen wearing a dark-colored Polo hat, striped button-up shirt, khaki shorts and white high-top shoes, according to police.
The suspect was also caught on video running from the scene of one of the robberies, which took place on Kirkwood Avenue, and entering a charcoal gray Dodge four-door sedan.
“I want everybody to know we’re going to track the people that did this, and we’re going to bring them to justice,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Friday.
Earlier this week, Police Chief George Turner said a number of recent crimes in the area share a common narrative. Incidents range from May 17, when Grant Park resident Saman Balkhanian, 22, was shot in the head and robbed while walking home from a Braves game, and continue through last Saturday’s fatal shooting. At least four armed robberies are now linked to the teen suspect and his apparent accomplice.
Cotrona’s roommate, who was shot in the leg, and another friend told police they were approached by two gunmen. Turner indicated the suspects are likely gang members.
Meanwhile, Reed on Friday defended his administration’s record on crime, adding that a $25,000 reward offered by the city to anyone with information leading to the capture of the suspects in the Cotrona shooting may not be enough.
“I am reviewing right now an increase in the regime of rewards across the spectrum,” the mayor said. “If you’re a criminal and you commit a crime in Atlanta, I want people to start telling on you.”
Reed pointed to statistics showing violent crime is down 18 percent since he took office nearly four years ago, which he attributed in large part to the hiring of 800 police officers.
“But every time somebody gets hurt in the city, I care about it,” he said. “And the data gets thrown out of the window.”
Nate Minor, who organized Friday’s vigil, said the shooting called attention to the neglect that breeds the kind of crime seen in the area in recent weeks.
“Disorder in our city and all our neighborhoods needs to end today,” Minor said.
Reed placed part of the blame on Fulton County’s “turnstile jail.”
“I am standing right here in the center of these microphones, and I accept responsibility,” he said. “But I ask that you go and spend some time and look at the backgrounds of people who are being released after we catch them. The numbers are terrible. Fulton County is going to have to step up as a partner and do their jobs.”
Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.