Markiezia Atkins, Chaveda Willis, Death – Authorities have released the names of two women killed when gunfire erupted in Birmingham Monday morning, a shooting that also injured three other people. Police identified the slain victims a Markiezia Atkins, 24, of Center Point, and Chaveda Willis, 33, of Birmingham.
The initial shooting happened about 2 a.m. following an altercation that began at Aria Restaurant and Lounge in the 900 block of Fifth Avenue North. More gunfire then erupted when three of the victims arrived at UAB Hospital in an SUV.
Investigators say at least two gunmen opened fire on the SUV outside the emergency room, but no one was struck at the hospital. “We believe the gunfire stemmed from a targeted attack,’’ said Officer Truman Fitzgerald, “however many of the victims who were struck by gunfire appear to have been bystanders.”
Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond released this statement following the deadly shooting: “Two females lost their lives to yet again another senseless act of violence in our city,’’ Thurmond said. “Early indications are those who were shot were most likely innocent victims.”
“As a result, we have two women whose lives were cut entirely too short. Two families were destroyed, and three other victims will have to live with the scars of this senseless violence for the rest of their lives,’’ he said.
The chief said the vast majority of Birmingham residents want a safer, better Birmingham, yet there continues to be a small group of people who can only resolve conflict by gunfire.
“Our city and its leadership will continue to work hard every day to hold those accountable for senseless acts of violence such as this morning’s incident,’’ he said. “It is imperative for everyone to work together to prevent and eliminate future acts of violence.”
“Put the guns down, they don’t solve problems, they only create bigger problems, and destroy families and our city,’’ Thurmond said. “Birmingham and our residents deserve better.” Authorities said Atkins, Willis and a man whose identity has not been released, were inside a Chevrolet Tahoe that arrived at UAB’s emergency about 2:17 a.m.
When the SUV got to UAB, another vehicle pulled up and opened fire on the Tahoe. Witnesses said they heard multiple shots fired, describing the sounds as “iron pipes hitting.”
The gunfire hit a UAB police vehicle and a hospital window, but no other people were injured in that shooting. Birmingham and UAB police officers shut down the area surrounding the emergency room. The hospital was placed on lockdown.
Willis was pronounced dead at 2:30 a.m. Atkins was pronounced dead at 2:55 a.m. The wounded man was admitted in critical condition. Two other women showed up at the hospital with gunshot injuries, but they are expected to be OK.
Willis and Atkins are Birmingham’s 90th and 91st homicide victims this year. In all of Jefferson County, there have been 127 homicides including the 91 in Birmingham.
No arrests have been made.
Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at 205-254-1764 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.