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Gang member faces up to 300 years in prison for firing at motorists | News

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Gang member faces up to 300 years in prison for firing at motorists
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MARIETTA, Ga. -- A Marietta man could face three centuries worth of jail time for 'gang loyalty' activities that included shooting at innocent motorists.

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds announced, Thursday, that a Cobb jury has convicted Johannes Alexander Lopez, 27, on 26 indicted counts, including 16 counts of violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, four counts of aggravated assault, five counts of firearms possession and one count of criminal damage to property in the first degree.

The evidence showed that in the early morning hours of Sept. 15, 2013, Lopez - a member of the criminal street gang SUR 13 - was involved in two separate shootings of innocent residents who were fired upon merely because their cars were the color of one of SUR 13’s rival gangs. 

In the first shooting, two unidentified individuals deployed from Lopez’s vehicle and blasted upon a red car driven by a pregnant woman and her husband on Bankhead Highway with a handgun, after ramming the victims’ vehicle. 

Later that same day, on Hicks Road, a shotgun was fired from Lopez’s Ford Explorer at another red car. A total of four people, including a pregnant woman, were in those vehicles, though miraculously, none were injured.

Lopez was later arrested with the gun ballistics matched to one of the crime scenes.

Among the state’s 30 witnesses were gang experts who testified that Lopez had an extensive criminal history over the last decade related to his gang membership. He had been released from state prison in May of 2013 after an earlier felony conviction in Cobb County and the experts testified that when a gang member returns after being away, he is expected to reestablish himself in the gang through acts of violence.

SUR 13’s color is blue and the color of its rival gang is red which is why the shots were fired at red vehicles. Expert testimony at trial explained that SUR 13 has 75,000 members across the country committing crimes from murder to narcotics trafficking.

Gang experts also testified to SUR 13’s long criminal history in metro Atlanta, including Cobb County.

The experts also spoke to the gang tattoos on the back of Lopez’s head and on his body, the gang-labeled clothing he was wearing, and the fact that he was carrying a SUR 13 bandanna or flag when he was arrested.

“That tattoo on the back of his head means he’s in for life. He is true blue. Proud. Loyal, and dangerous," ADA Jaret Usher told jurors.

In closing arguments, Deputy Chief ADA Michael Scott Carlson told the jury that criminal street gangs are about force, violence, imposition of will and instilling fear.

“Unless gang charges are brought against gang members, gang crime does not stop," Carlson said.

“These shootings could have resulted in four murders and a feticide. None of that mattered to Mr. Lopez, because the gang comes first. This man embraces SUR 13, its crime and its victimization,” Carlson told jurors during his closing argument.

District Attorney Reynolds was in the courtroom for the verdict and plans to attend Lopez's sentencing Friday morning.

“This well-reasoned verdict and my office’s aggressive use of Georgia’s anti-gang laws sends a clear message to SUR 13 and gangs like it - they are not welcome in Cobb,” Reynolds said.

Cobb Superior Court Judge S. Lark Ingram set sentencing for 11 a.m. Friday. Lopez faces more than 300 years in prison.

Lopez was acquitted of one count of Violation of Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. 

He was represented by Marietta attorney John Greco.

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