By Christian Boone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — The 30 Deep gang member alleged to have fired the gun that killed a popular Grant Park bartender will not be released from prison anytime soon, according to a spokesman for the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
A petition requesting that Johnquavious Hood remain incarcerated until Dec. 14, his latest possible release date on an unrelated criminal conviction, drew nearly 2,500 signatures on an online petition this week.
Don Henderson, the father of John Henderson, whom Hood allegedly shot at Standard Food and Spirits more than three years ago, started the petition after learning Hood might be eligible for parole as early as this month.
But no such decision has been made regarding Hood's release, said Pardons and Paroles spokesman Steve Hayes.
The board could set up a tentative parole date for the 20-year-old, currently housed in Georgia State Prison in Reidsville for charges unrelated to the Standard shooting, before December, but has not done so, the spokesman said.
The board also could consider the petition when deciding whether Hood should be released early, Hayes said.
In a letter he sent to the parole board this month,Henderson wrote, "I have a real concern that Hood will return to the environment that nurtured his diverse criminal activity and he will kill again."
The retired church organist is also trying to buy time for prosecutors.
Henderson, of Baltimore, said he's convinced Hood shot his 27-year-old son in the head before leaving the Memorial Drive tavern along with three other reputed 30 Deep gang members on Jan. 7, 2009. He wants to see Hood charged with his son's killing before he's freed.
Only one of the four men alleged to have participated in the robbery and shooting has been charged, though prosecutors have suggested Hood fired the bullet that killed John Henderson.
Jonathan Redding, 17 at the time, was tried last year under a law that allows a jury to convict a defendant for murder if he participated in an armed robbery that resulted in a death.
Redding was convicted and sentenced to life plus 20 years for his role in the bartender's murder.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said after Redding's trial that his office was building a case against Hood who, according to one witness, boasted of killing Henderson.
Nearly 14 months later, the investigation continues, according to a spokeswoman for the DA's office.
"If we can keep him in prison a little longer, maybe the state will have enough time to bring charges," said Henderson.
Hood has denied shooting the bartender but admitted in court testimony that he was a member of 30 Deep, based in Atlanta's Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
"You label us a gang because of what we're doing," he testified.
"We got to get money. We can't get a job or anything. What's the grudge against us?"