Dunwoody, once thought of as a relatively crime-free bedroom community on the outskirts of Atlanta, is increasingly under criticism after two shooting incidents in the Perimeter Mall area in the past few weeks.

The latest event on Feb. 11, occurred in the parking lot of Sage Woodfire Grill on Ashford Dunwoody Road after a man and woman were detained after leaving without paying for their dinner. The man shot the restaurant’s security guard in the hand and shoulder. The two remain at large.

Details about the suspects are sketchy, police say, as they have had some technical difficulties in developing a physical description of the couple.

“We know that we have video footage in the area, but we’ve been having some technical issues in getting it,” Dunwoody Police Sgt. Michael Cheek said. “The only description that we have, literally, is that there was a male and a female involved. The security guard couldn’t provide much of a description.”

Cheek said the unidentified security guard remains hospitalized at Grady Hospital in stable condition. He said that the guard was either employed by the restaurant, or with a security service, but to his knowledge, was not a police officer working an off-duty job.

The Feb. 11 incident follows a shooting in January at the Perimeter Mall food court involving two men who exchanged gunfire after a verbal confrontation. Police identified Roykell L. Holder, 20, of Decatur, Ga. as the person who shot Che’saun Lacey, 18, with a black semi-automatic pistol, and Raymon Pierre, 21, of Atlanta, as the driver of the escape vehicle.

Roykell, charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession gun assault, reckless conduct, and aggravated battery, had a $7500 bond set on Jan. 9. Pierre was charged with aggravated battery.

Lacey, according to the incident report, is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of his injuries.

Residents took to social media to decry the turn of events in the area, saying that the Perimeter Mall area has become unsafe, and likened it to crime in Buckhead and its Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls.

“So sad,” one reader posted. “I used to love living in Dunwoody and now this crap has bled over from Buckhead.”

Another called the incident “disgusting and pathetic,” adding “Dunwoody is a bad place now.”

“Once a beautiful place to live, quiet and safe now filled with gangsters who are only brave because they carry a gun,” another resident said.

The latest year-over-year statistics from 2021-2022 show that violent crime has risen in almost every category, according to a report generated by Dunwoody Police.

Homicides within the city increased from two in 2021 to three in 2022, while reported rapes rose from nine to 12 during the same time period. Armed robberies were down 3.4%, but aggravated assaults increased 15%, from 53 in 2021 to 61 in 2022.

Total violent crimes reported were up almost 12% over the last year, according to the report. In addition, property crimes, including burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft all rose in 2022, as well as narcotics arrests, which rose 75% in 2022 over the previous year – from 98 to 172. Calls about forgery and fraud rose 35% from 509 in 2021 to 688 in 2022.

Cathy Cobbs

Cathy Cobbs covers Dunwoody for Reporter Newspapers and Rough Draft Atlanta. She can be reached at cathy@roughdraftatlanta.com