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Suspect Arrested in Shooting of Pregnant Woman

Photo Credit: Blake Aued

Auriel Callaway’s mother LaShanda, uncle Bryant Gantt, Police Chief Cleveland Spruill, sister Kearia Rucker, cousin Vanessa Johnson and Deputy Chief Jeff Clark.

Athens-Clarke County police arrested a Clarke Gardens resident Wednesday night and charged her with the murder of neighbor Auriel Callaway during a gunfight at the Eastside apartment compex Monday.

Although others were also shooting, police say Kiresa Shanice Cooper, 27, fired the bullet that killed Callaway, 24, who was walking with her 3-year-old son when the gunfire broke out. Callaway was trying to get her son to a safe place when she was shot, according to Police Chief Cleveland Spruill. She died, along with the unborn child she was carrying, at a local hospital shortly after the shooting Monday night.

“I cannot think of a more tragic circumstance that for an innocent mother to be gunned down in front of her residence while her child looked on,” Spruill said at a news conference this afternoon to announce Cooper’s arrest.

After watching video bystanders recorded and interviewing witnesses, police identified Cooper as the shooter early on the investigation, Spruill said. They located her in Cobb County and arrested her on Wednesday. She was booked into the Clarke County Jail at 11:26 p.m. on charges of aggravated assault and felony murder (murder committed in conjunction with another felony) and is being held without bond. Other charges are pending, Spruill said.

Spruill would not say why the fight initially broke out, but there is no evidence of gang involvement, he said.

Police are still looking for more information about the shooting, including video, and urged any witnesses who haven’t been interviewed to come forward.

Spruill and other ACCPD administrators were accompanied by several of Callaway’s relatives, including Bryant Gantt, director of player programs for the UGA football team. Gantt, who grew up in Nelly B and played football at Cedar Shoals and UGA, mentors players and serves as the team’s liason with law enforcement.

Gantt urged people to think before they act and stop “senseless” violence. “If we can start at home, stop the violence at home, maybe it can spread out throughout the nation,” he said.