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Suspected killer appears in court

Murder suspect Danny Wilkerson leaves a courtroom at the Dougherty County Jail Wednesday morning following his initial appearance before Magistrate Baxter Howell.

Murder suspect Danny Wilkerson leaves a courtroom at the Dougherty County Jail Wednesday morning following his initial appearance before Magistrate Baxter Howell.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Danny Wilkerson Jr., the man police say was involved in the killing of a rival gang leader this weekend, had his initial court appearance Wednesday morning.

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Danny Wilkerson, Jr.

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From left are Kelvin Drake, Keith Roberson and Manasseh Skinner.

Officers from the Robbery/Homicide Unit and the Gang Unit arrested Wilkerson in Thomasville Tuesday with the assistance of Thomasville authorities.

He’s been charged with murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and gang participation.

Wednesday morning, Wilkerson stood before Dougherty County Magistrate Baxter Howell to hear his charges.

Under Georgia law, magistrates can’t consider bond on heinous cases like murder. Instead, Wilkerson will have to wait for a hearing before a Dougherty County Superior Court judge before knowing whether he’ll be granted a bond.

According to state records, Wilkerson was released from prison in September 2011 after serving six years of a 20-year sentence for four aggravated assault convictions stemming from a 2005 shooting.

According to his file with the Department of Corrections, Wilkerson was also known by the alias “Young Killa,” and was paroled in September 2011 but was required to be on electronic monitoring.

Three men were also arrested earlier in Albany on a variety of charges involving the murder, stated Albany Police Department reports.

The early-Sunday morning shooting death of 24-year-old Luke at the Shackelford Shopping Center parking lot could be the start of an escalating gang war, said Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards.

“He (Luke) is a recognized leader in the (Rattlers) gang and goes by the street name ‘Tater Man,’” Edwards said. “We have to stop this before the beefs between rival gangs upgrade the weapons to assault rifles to outgun the other crew. Gang members from outside Albany may be brought in to help, because they won’t be known here.”

Because the investigation is continuing, Edwards said that the he could not name which of the arrested or which of the suspects were Bloods or Rattlers. Arrested were Kelvin Drake, 24, Manasseh Skinner, 27, and Keith Roberson 30.

All were charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and criminal street gang participation.