“WE GOT HIM!” with these three simple words, Oconee County Sheriff James A. Hale Jr. summed up what Elijah Wood’s family, everyone at the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, and the greater community had been waiting a year for, the forward march toward justice, resolution, and peace.
Read, watch and listen, to this Fox 5 – Atlanta news piece, describing the teamwork, tactics, and technology that led to the arrest of a suspect in the murder of Elijah Wood, a young man well known and beloved by many in the community.
In summary, the news piece reflects that:
Elijah was killed while working the overnight shift at the Oconee County RaceTrac, around 1:40 a.m. on March 19, 2021. A masked gunman walked into the store, pointed his handgun at Wood, and pulled the trigger, investigators said.
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office said in February they were notified by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), of a ballistic match for the firearm used in Wood's murder. According to investigators, the match showed the same gun was used in July at a homicide in Philadelphia.
Wednesday morning, FBI agents and a SWAT team arrested Ahkil Nasir Crumpton, of Philadelphia for the crime. He was a wide receiver for the University of Georgia from 2017 to 2019. According to investigators, Crumpton was a student at UGA until 2021, the year that Wood was killed.
Crumpton faces weapons charges in Pennsylvania, but sources believe those charges could be upgraded. It was not clear when he would be extradited back to Georgia.
Wood's family told FOX 5 that this was the day they had been waiting for, but that the fight for justice was just beginning.
While the news piece does a good job of speaking to what the arrest of a suspect in the case means to Elijah Wood’s family and the community at large, it deserves expansion here, in terms of the “WHY”.
The "why" – why every violent crime that takes - or attempts to – take a life must be responded to and investigated in a manner that seeks justice for the victims, resolution for their loved ones, and peace for their neighbors.
The "why" - that every tool in law enforcement’s crime-solving toolbox must be up-to-date and at the ready - to be employed according to policy-driven standard operating procedures – every crime – every time.
Imagine how the family of a victim, who has yet to see justice or resolution in their aging case feels - when they hear a police chief, prosecutor, or civic leader talking about another unrelated case – say that they are “pulling out all the stops” or “will leave no stone unturned” to solve the case? The family may wonder as to why those things weren’t said about their case.
This is the second time in as many days, that I have had the opportunity to write about cases that exemplify the WHY and celebrate the outstanding cross-jurisdictional teamwork, policy-driven tactics, and leveraging technologies brought to bear by the men and women in law enforcement.
The first case involved the recent arrest of a suspect, accused of killing and shooting homeless men as they slept on cold sidewalks in New York and Washington, DC. The second is this one, involving the murder of Elijah Wood.
Both cases, involved, the cross-jurisdictional teamwork of ATF and its state and local investigative partners, and both incorporated ballistics technology deployed in a policy-driven program called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).
NIBIN is but one of the tools in today’s modern crime-solving toolbox. One day as mentioned above it may be NIBIN that helps investigators break the case, the next day it may be ATF’s eTrace System, or the FBI’s fingerprints or DNA systems.
On other days, it could be technology that detects gunfire or reads license plates or faces. Even our home doorbell security cameras can play an important role in crime-solving today.
We must not be fooled into believing that there is one “silver bullet” when it comes to these many tools – for on many days it takes a combination of them - and one day it may require all of them. We won’t get a warning as to which one we should use – so we must be prepared - resourced - to use them all.
To all the men and women involved in bringing these cases to the precipice of justice, resolution, and peace - no matter what your role – thanks for the work that you do!