Athens dance company at risk of closing doors after shooting

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:28 PM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2023 at 12:38 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - “She wakes up in the middle of the night crying. She talks about it every day, her and her sister,” said Brittanie Wright.

Ne’vaeh Brown is lucky to be alive.

The 5-year-old is one of several young dancers who were injured after bullets flew through a window at an Athens shopping center last week inside a space rented by the company, ‘Dynamic Dolls of Athens.’

One 14-year-old is recovering after a bullet to her arm.

Ne’vaeh was hit in the eye. Her mother, Brittanie Wright, says doctors now have to remove it.

“I kind of felt at fault because maybe if I wouldn’t have left, I could have helped her, saved her,” Wright said.

Director and owner of ‘Dynamic Dolls of Athens’ Nyisha Harris says it isn’t the first time the group’s feared for their safety.

Earlier this year, at the same rental space, she says a man with a gun ran into the building and then left.

But this is the only space they can afford.

“The girls just want to dance, they just want to have fun and it’s sickening. I have girls now that are thinking about not dancing anymore and it breaks my heart,” she said.

Harris says she’s reached out countless times to reserve a safer space with the city’s Leisure Services Department and has been denied.

Athens mayor Kelly Girtz says there’s just not enough space.

“We, of course, like every vibrant community have a limited number of facilities and have a limited number of slots from community activities,” he said.

That’s not good enough for Harris and Wright who says the city should be doing more, especially about gun violence.

Now, the company may have no other choice but to close.

“You’re scared to leave your kids somewhere. You’re scared to take them somewhere. It’s just getting out of control,” said Harris.

The dance company has about two weeks before they have to close their doors for good.