Gunfire on Hardy Avenue

Yellow evidence cones marking shell casings line the 500 block of Hardy Avenue as Rome police investigate a shooting reported at around 5 p.m. Wednesday that sent a Polk County man to the hospital with two bullet wounds.

Rome police are beefing up enforcement in South Rome after two incidents this month when cars and homes on Hardy Avenue were riddled with bullets.

A Rockmart man, 21-year-old Dequaylon Finley, was shot twice in his back in the latest incident, on June 12. Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett said Monday the investigation into the assault remains active and there are “some very strong leads.”

Burnett also said a standing order went out Friday for field operations to concentrate extra patrols in the area.

“The ones causing the problems in South Rome are not from South Rome. They’re good people down there,” Burnett said.

“We want to work hand in hand with them and see how we can help them. They shouldn’t have to worry about walking outside and being hit by a stray bullet,” she added.

As a team of officers works to uncover the source of the violence, patrol officers are implementing what Burnett called “zero tolerance” sweeps. It’s a technique used successfully in other parts of the city, she said, to tamp down unlawful behavior.

“Littering, traffic violations, standing in the street with an open container of alcohol – any type of violation we can identify that’s causing a quality of life problem, we’re going to be enforcing it,” Burnett said.

Finley’s shooting, in broad daylight, followed an early morning incident five days earlier also on Hardy Avenue.

Police called to the scene found a shattered glass door on one house and bullet holes in the front windows of another. The second home had at least three bullets embedded in the interior walls and a vehicle outside had been shot up.

In early May, Johnny Lewis Price, 74, was shot dead at a party on Hardy Avenue. Wallace J. Chambers, Jr., 46, is charged with felony murder in the death.

The Finley shooting happened about 5 p.m. Wednesday in the same block. More than 40 shell casings were found in the street.

According to Rome police reports:

Finley said he and a passenger came to South Rome to visit a woman. On his second drive around the block, a man tried to wave him down but he was fearful of being robbed. Through his rear view mirror, he saw a group of men open fire.

“Both the driver and the passenger have said they don’t know who the shooters are,” Burnett said.

The report indicates confirmation of at least part of the story by an independent witness. Finley’s vehicle drove down the street and around the block. At one point he honked the horn. In the 500 block, several men came out into the street and began shooting.

Finley drove off and called 911 for help. Emergency responders found him at the Market on Second Avenue gas station and he was taken to the hospital from there.