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Mourners Injured During Deck Collapse

deckcollapse8JONESBORO — More than a dozen people were hospitalized, including four with broken ankles, when a deck collapsed during a candlelight vigil for a 19-year-old man who was killed during a fight.

About 35 people were standing on a 12-foot-by-12-foot deck at a house in Clayton County during the vigil for Devon Gates when it buckled at about 8:17 p.m. Thursday, officials said. The deck was about 8 feet high.

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About a dozen people were taken to the hospital and emergency personnel treated several people at the scene.

Latoia Starr, 15, said the deck collapsed just after a preacher had asked about 100 mourners who attended the event to accept God into their lives.

Mourners were making their way to the deck to comfort Gates’ family members when it collapsed.

“The devil got mad because the people were giving up their lives to God,” Starr said.

Gates, a high school senior and standout football player, was shot at a birthday party for a 17-year-old girl on Sunday. Police said he was killed by 29-year-old Vap Chhoum after the two apparently bumped into each other in a doorway and exchanged angry words.

Chhoum was arrested Monday night.

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