Calamity has struck the recruitment ranks of the Georgia Bulldogs football team.
According to multiple reports, on Monday, a recent recruit, E.J. Lightsey, was shot in Fitzgerald, Georgia, his hometown.
The linebacker suffered multiple gunshot wounds but is reportedly in stable condition. The incoming freshman seems to have been the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Georgia 2022 LB Signee EJ Lightsey has been shot & looks like he’ll make a full recovery pic.twitter.com/AXKAJjEfdF
— Cfbnewstoday (@cfbnewstoday) February 22, 2022
Wrong Place. Wrong Time.
Police have reported to multiple media outlets that Lightsey was working out in the park at the shooting time.
Lightsey was reportedly shot in the back and also the shoulder during the incident. However, he is expected to recover from the issue that is not ideal for any incoming Division I football prospect.
Additionally, according to Fitzgerald Police Chief William Smallwood Jr., the incident might be attributed to gang-related activity. Unfortunately, no arrests in the case have been made yet.
Prayers for Georgia Signee EJ Lightsey..💯🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/NIr1Dq7IU1
— Chauncey Figgures (@cmfiggures) February 22, 2022
According to reports, after a shooting at a local park was made known to authorities in Fitzgerald, local police officers responded. When they arrived, one victim was still lying on the ground while Lightsey, the other victim, had already been transported to a hospital by his associates.
Lightsey was reportedly taken to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, almost an hour and a half away.
“Lightsey was the one that was picked up and taken to the hospital,” Smallwood said to the media. “After that, I can’t tell you exactly what happened because we’ve got so many different stories and versions of it. We’re trying to piece it together right now.”
EJ Lightsey could use your prayers.
— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) February 22, 2022
According to the Valdosta Daily Times, there has been an uptick in gang activity in rural Georgia. In addition, according to The Georgia Gang Investigators Association website, “the State of Georgia is in a state of crisis caused by violent criminal street gangs. Communities are living in fear, and youth are being lost to gang life.”
In The GGIA’s quest to “support(s) communities and law enforcement in the fight to win back our neighborhoods and rescue our youth,” the organization released a 2018 poll of local law enforcement agencies the following year.
The organization tallied over 71,000 gang members and gang associates, including prison inmates, within the Peach State. According to The GGIA, the survey identified nearly 1,600 active groups in Georgia; local law enforcement reported gang members’ presence in all but two of Georgia’s 159 counties and all but four school systems.
If you pray, pray for EJ Lightsey. Some people are just evil
— Len Spivey 🐺 (@len_spivey66) February 22, 2022
The Georgia Perspective
Over the years, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has cited the group’s findings and horrible violent incidents when vowing to disrupt street gang activity.
“All you have to do is pick up your local paper, turn on the television or talk to your law enforcement in your local community,” Kemp said at a news conference.
“It is a serious issue in our state — one that we cannot afford to ignore if we hope to be the best state in the nation to live, work, start a business and raise family,” Kemp added.
Last season, Lightsey helped lead Fitzgerald High School to a Class 2A state championship and was a highly ranked high school inside linebacker. Hopefully, Georgia’s rural gang presence will not derail his athletic career.
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