By Joe Johnson
Another arrest has been made in the investigation of events surrounding the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman last summer at her eastside apartment complex.
The victim, 24-year-old Auriel Briana “Thumpa” Callaway was with her 3-year-old son outside their home at Clarke Gardens the night of July 22 when, Athens-Clarke County police said, gunshots rang out from a fight nearby in the complex and Callaway was killed by a bullet as she tried to rush her son to safety.
Callaway was four months pregnant with a child who also died, police said.
The alleged shooter, 26-year-old Kiresa Shanice Cooper, also of Clarke Gardens, was charged by a grand jury with malice and felony murder, feticide, four counts of aggravated assault, and six counts of possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony,
Two of the aggravated assault charges were from Cooper allegedly firing her gun in the direction of two other females, according to the indictment.
Cooper’s sister, Kadrica Yearby told Classic City News that in conversations at the jail, Cooper admitted to firing a gun in the air in an attempt to break up fighting. She said she could not understand how the bullet that killed Callaway could be linked to her sister’s gun when there were dozens of spent bullet casings at the scene.
The death of the well-liked young woman galvanized members of Athens’ black community into taking action to reduce gun violence in their communities through such initiatives as youth mentoring, conflict resolution and a gun buy-back program.
The police investigation did not end with Cooper’s arrest.
On Thursday, police arrested 18-year-old Smokey Road resident Xavier Mitchell on warrants charging him with reckless conduct, theft by receiving stolen property, and violating the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
The arrest stemmed from a traffic stop an officer conducted Thursday night on a car as it was entering Athens Gardens off of Lexington Road.
The officer called for backup after seeing that Mitchell was a passenger in the car. The car was subsequently searched by officers who located two handguns, two vacuum-sealed plastic bags of marijuana, a digital scale, and an undisclosed amount of cash.
Mithcell was arrested on the warrants and additionally charged with a second count of criminal gang activity, possession of a firearm during the commission of certain felonies, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
The driver of the Porsche SUV, 20-year-old Miquan Pittard of Bailey Street was charged with criminal street gang activity, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm during the commission of certain felonies, and theft by receiving a firearm stolen from another state.
None of his charges stemmed from the fatal shooting at Clarke Gardens.
Mitchell and Pittard on Monday continued to be held without bail at the Clarke County Jail.
Two other arrests of suspects associated with the Callaway homicide investigation were made in February and March.
The case is still being actively investigated, said Capt. Christopher Nichols, commanding officer of the Athens-Clarke County police Criminal Investigations Division. “Additional charges have resulted from other people’s actions that night, even though they may not have been the person that fired the deadly shot.”
Nichols added, “By charging these additional persons, the police department reaffirms its stance that we will not tolerate unlawful gun possession and usage or gang violence.”