Updated: Jul 26, 2019
By Joe Johnson
Authorities Wednesday night arrested an Athens woman for the fatal shooting this week of a pregnant young mother at an eastside apartment complex.
According to Athens-Clarke County police, a fight between two groups at the Clarke Gardens public housing complex broke out at about 9:45 p.m. and the altercation escalated to the point of gun play.
As the shooting erupted, 24-year-old Auriel Callaway tried to move her 3-year-old son to safety when she was struck by a bullet and later died at the hospital where her unborn child was also pronounced deceased.
After identifying 26-year-old Clarke Gardens resident Kiresa Shanice Cooper as a suspect, authorities located and arrested her Wednesday evening in Cobb County, according to police.
Cooper was initially charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, though police said additional charges were expected.
"This reckless act of violence took the life of a young mother in her prime as well as her unborn child," Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Cleveland Spruill said
in a prepared statement released late Thursday morning.
"Such senseless violence shall not be tolerated and all our investigative resources and tools were brought to bear to locate and apprehend the suspect," the police chief's statement said.
Cooper's mother, Barbara Patman, said when she spoke to her daughter by phone from the jail Wednesday night, Cooper denied firing a gun in the skirmish from which the fatal shot was fired.
Cooper briefly appeared in Magistrate Court Thursday morning for a hearing in which a judge bound Cooper’s case over to Superior Court.
Court personnel said that the hearing was held earlier than planned and Cooper was quickly returned to jail due to rumors that people who might disrupt the hearing were planning to attend. During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Spruill said that investigators had obtained cellphone videos that captured parts of the altercation, but no footage the fatal gunshot being fired.
He said that more than one person fired a gun in the incident but investigators gathered evidence that made him confident that the right person was charged with Callaway's death.
The police chief thanked community members that assisted in the investigation but requested that anyone who had additional video footage of the incident to share it with police.
He asked that anyone with information or video related to the incident contact detectives Scott Black or Paul Johnson at (706) 613-3330.