Local News Coverage for DeKalb County, GA » Death of teen takes emotional toll on officers


Days after Decatur Police apprehended a murder suspect, a resident delivered a dozen doughnuts to the police department with the message, “a little something to make a tough week a bit sweeter.”

It took approximately 24 hours to apprehend 14-year-old Shykia Ward-Reese’s alleged killer, but the effects of the teen’s death will last with officers forever, according to a Decatur Police official.

On the department’s official Facebook page, Decatur officers thanked the community for their support.

“Over the past couple of days we have received a huge amount of support and thanks from all of our community members,” the Facebook post said. “Cases like the one we just worked are extremely draining on us as a department. It is very nice to see all of the support given to us through calls, texts, emails, social media, etc. We are all part of a community here in Decatur and can’t function without one another.”

Decatur Sgt. John Bender said the well wishes from the community are helping officers. First responders who were on the scene of the double homicide of Ward-Reese and 36-year-old Manuel De Jesus Franco attended a peer-to-peer support group of officers.

“It never leaves you. These cases stay with you in some way. None of them ever leave you,” Bender said. “It’s nice to know that people care.”

Several officers were in attendance at a candlelight vigil for Ward-Reese. Officers hugged and talked with community members during the vigil.

“They may not know exactly what we go through, but they know that it’s hard on us,” Bender said.

On March 25, Royce Stewart, Reese’s uncle, was visiting his sister Kimberly Ward at Trinity Walk Apartments. Stewart allegedly stabbed his niece and Franco, Ward’s boyfriend.

Trinity Walk Apartments are located across the street from the Decatur Police Department.

“Any time something like this happens, this building doesn’t stop,” Bender said. “We had to find that suspect. We tracked down every possible lead, every tip to bring him in.”

Stewart is charged with two counts of murder and one count of theft by taking a motor vehicle. A motive for the incident has not been determined.

“We’re a very small department and we’re close to our community. We take things like this personal,” Bender said.

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