DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. – A quiet, suburban neighborhood outside Atlanta was left reeling after a man shot six people — killing four of them, including his ex-wife and several children — before ending the rampage by fatally turning the gun on himself, police said.
The shooting happened Saturday around 3 p.m. in a subdivision about 20 miles west of Atlanta, Douglas County Sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Daniel said.
Horrified neighbors called 911 and then tried to help the severely injured victims as best they could before rescuers arrived.
The shooter, whose name was not immediately released, appeared to have targeted his ex-wife and her household, shooting victims inside and outside the house, Daniel said. Several children were gunned down as they fled on a street, neighbors said.
Authorities did not release the names of the victims because they were still trying Saturday to contact the next of kin. Investigators believe the gunman killed himself at the end of the shooting spree.
Police were still trying to determine the shooter’s motive and piece together what happened.
“I’ve been in law enforcement out here 20 years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Daniel said. He did not know when the couple divorced or if they had prior contact with police.
Teresa Carter, 59, said she heard the gunfire from inside her home but did not see what happened. Carter said she often saw the children playing in the driveway and around the neighborhood. They enjoyed petting her dog.“I heard shots, and I heard the girl scream,” Carter said. “And then I heard four more shots.”
Brandon Hallman was working on a car a few houses down when the shooting started.“I heard a couple quick shots, you know, back to back to back. Went out there and, you know, looked and it was already over,” Hallman said. “We just grabbed some towels and kind of went down there to try and help before the paramedics got here.”
Another neighbor, Angela Ansah, struggled to explain to her own children what happened to their slain friends a few houses down. Ansah said some of the children targeted Saturday often came over to her house to play with her own children.
“These are children I see every day, every blessed day,” Ansah said.
A Missouri man has been charged in connection with the death of his 3-month-old son, police confirmed Monday.
Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer told KSDK News that deputies were called to the apartment of 21-year-old Cody Bunch in Festus, Missouri, on Jan. 6 after receiving a call that a young child there was not breathing.
The baby, Aiden Bunch, was taken to a nearby hospital and later airlifted to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. The child died Jan. 10.
Doctors reportedly told detectives the boy suffered severe brain injuries caused by trauma.
“Through the course of the investigation we determined that there was some head trauma. We questioned the last two people to have custody, the mother and father,” Lt. Sgt. Jim Kausler told KTVI News.
Bunch reportedly told police he fell while getting out of a chair with his son cradled in his arms. Kausler said investigators didn’t believe the story.
“There was more than one injury that we found,”Kausler said. “It was just inconsistent with what he was telling us.”
According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, Bunch told police that his son had been lethargic for a few days and then suddenly “gasped for air” while he was feeding the child on Jan. 6. He reportedly said attempts to the help the boy start breathing again were unsuccessful and woke the child’s mother, Brooke Besch, and told her to call 911.
Police investigators told KTVI the boy had at least seven bruises on the back and the middle of his head. Police said they found no bruises on Bunch’s body.
Bunch was charged with one count of abuse of a child resulting in death on Jan. 16.
Family members declined to be interviewed at length about the charges or the child’s death, though one aunt described the situation as a nightmare.
Bunch was last reported to be in the Jefferson County Jail Monday. He is being held on $500,000 cash-only bail.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Washington state woman accused of stabbing her three small children told detectives she cut the children’s throats with a kitchen knife to keep them quiet for her soldier husband, a prosecutor said Monday.
Christina E. Booth, 29, of Olympia, said in the police interview that her husband, Thomas Booth, never helped her with the children and got “very annoyed” when they cried, Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor Craig Juris said in a probable cause document filed in court. The children include a 2-year-old toddler and 6-month-old twins.
Bail was set Monday at $3 million. The woman was arrested early Sunday for investigation of attempted murder. The prosecutor’s office said Monday she has not yet been formally charged. An email request for comment sent to a lawyer who was with her at the bail hearing was not immediately returned.
The children were reported stable Sunday after surgery at a hospital. The hospital isn’t releasing updates on their condition because of federal privacy law. They have been placed in the custody of state Child Protective Services.
Thomas Booth told police his wife had been “very stressed out” raising the children and was on medication for post-partum depression, according to court papers. He said he and his wife had watched a movie at home Saturday night and each had two large glasses of wine. He described his wife as sufficiently intoxicated that she was slurring her words.
According to the detectives’ account, Christina Booth said she had been having a tough time caring for the children. She said her husband “never helps her with the children and that Thomas gets very annoyed when the children cry and make noise,” detectives said in the probable cause account.
The woman said the twins started crying after she took the toddler up to bed and “she hit her breaking point,” the document said. She described going downstairs to get a knife from the dishwasher, then cutting her toddler daughter’s throat with a knife and covering her with blankets so she would be hidden. She then described cutting the twins’ throats.
“Christina said she knew if she killed all of the kids, the house would be quiet for Thomas,” the probable cause document said she told detectives. “During the interview, Christina broke down crying several times, yelled about Thomas never helping with the kids and vomited once. Christina made the comment ‘they will be quiet now’ several times.”
Police have said Thomas Booth is not suspected of a crime.
He told detectives that he found the injured twins after he saw his wife wearing only her underwear, crying and screaming, a short time after she took the little girl upstairs to put her to bed. He said grabbed his medical kit and started trying to stop the twins’ bleeding with gauze, while yelling at his wife to call 911. Thomas Booth said he saw the toddler in her bed but didn’t see anything wrong with her.
The man told detectives his wife always took the children out of his presence if they cried.
In talking with the woman’s husband and neighbors, detectives have been getting a picture of a family in stress, Olympia police Lt. Jim Costa said earlier.
Neighbors told investigators that Booth had a “bubbly” personality, but she had no break in dealing with her little ones.
“I’m sure there probably was frustration, friction in the household,” Costa said. “A lot of dynamics pushed her over the brink.”
GRANDVIEW, Mo. – Shaquille Stevens, 22, of Grandview, Mo., was arrested Friday and faces two counts of child abuse.
On Jan. 20, officers responded to the 12000 block of Lemon Tree Lane on a report of child abuse. When they arrived, two women told authorities the 2-year-old victim was not acting normal and was lethargic.
According to court documents, they said the victim appeared to have been beaten with a leather belt across the torso, hit in the head and had some scrapes that were scabbed over.
The victim’s mother told authorities she left the child with her boyfriend, Stevens, while she was at work. She received a text from Stevens that said he had spanked the victim, and she didn’t think anything of it.
According to court documents, the victim’s mother said Stevens told her he spanked the victim with a belt. When she arrived home, she saw the victim lying in bed with a bruised face. Stevens told her the victim also fell down the stairs. The victim’s mother said when she pulled the sheet down she saw welts and cuts all over the victim’s body.
When she told Stevens they needed to take the victim to the E.R., Stevens did not want to get in trouble for causing the injuries.
According to court documents, Stevens told officers the victim sustained their injuries after they fell down the front stairs and possibly from playing with a dog.
Stevens has a criminal history. He was found guilty of second degree robbery in Cass County in 2010, of child abuse in Belton, Mo., (on the municipal level) in 2010, and possession of a controlled substance in Jackson County in 2014.
Stevens is being held on a $100,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015.
ANDREWS, TX – More allegations of alleged abuse at the hands of a special needs teacher against the same children whose families we met two years ago in a similar situation. Christopher Wolfe and Haiyden Gregory were both classmates in the Devonian Elementary Special Needs class this school year.
Back in November, Lauren Gregory, Haiyden’s mom, was informed by a former aid, Lacie Stringfield, that incidents of alleged abuse were taking place, especially against Christopher Wolfe.
Something Lauren did not immediately believe. Lacie also informed Gregory that she had been fired after making complaints to the Devonian principal on three separate occasions.
“So, after that, I decided I would send another audio recording to make sure it was the truth, so I sent it the next day,” said Lauren Gregory.
And what Lauren says she heard on those recordings confirmed the aids allegations for her.
“They trashed Lacie the entire day in front of the children,” Gregory said. “During the audio, Mrs. Harmon is making fun of Christopher to Haiyden, but the biggest thing that upset me was Haiyden. He did have his diaper changed and he was fed, but the entire time, they did not talk to him. It’ll just hurt me because I trusted them.”
Both Haiyden and Christopher suffer from disabilities that do not allow them to verbalize as well as other children. Haiyden has Cerebral Palsy and Christopher has Downs Syndrome. Something these parents say once again made their kids easy targets.
Christopher’s grandmother, Joann Wolfe, was first notified of the allegations when Child Protective Services showed up at her home.
“I was told that they were investigating allegations of some physical abuse,” said Joann Wolfe. “And had I noticed anything? And thinking back initially I was shocked. And I didn’t even know the person that had made the initial complaint, but I’m very grateful that they did.”
Joann was later contacted by Lauren and told of the concerns the aid had in regards to Christopher’s well being in the class.“She said, Joann it happened and I was devastated,” Wolfe said. “I was very, because I believed her. Like I said, she was the one, there was another tape. There were witnesses to things that were happening. And I had not talked to her. I had not talked to her prior to that.”
The families were informed the teacher was placed on administrative leave, but Lauren said she had enough and pulled both Haiyden and her other child out of the school district. “I cannot trust AISD with my kids because this is the second time,” Gregory said.
Joann pulling Christopher out of school till changes were made. “We are finding resolution in the problem. The school system, AISD, Dr. Azam has been very helpful in addressing things,” Wolfe said. “Texas disability rights is involved because it was found in their internal investigation that his individual education plan had not been followed.”
We spoke to the Andrews ISD Superintendent, Bobby Azam, about the allegations. However, he was unable to confirm or deny if such incidents were being investigated at Devonian Elementary. But, new developments have come into play Friday in this saga. Just Friday afternoon, a petition was filed against Andrews ISD on behalf of the former aid, Lacey Stringfield.
NewsWest 9 obtained a copy of the request for the temporary injunction that lays out the allegations against the special needs teacher, Mrs. Kelly Harmon.
In it, Stringfield claims she was told by Mrs. Harmon at the start of the school year, that what happens in her classroom stays in the classroom and that “we do our own thing here.”
Stringfield also claims that during the second week of the school year, Mrs. Harmon informed her that the best way to motivate one of their students with Downs Syndrome was to use plastic spiders to scare him.
“CPS did acknowledge that as a tool to get him to do something that plastic spiders were put on him,” Wolfe said. “And he is deathly afraid of spiders. Another student was told to put a spider down his shirt and CPS acknowledged that yeah, that happened, but that’s not so bad, but I think it is.”
Other allegations include Mrs. Harmon informing the aid that the bus driver allegedly spanked a student because “that’s what he needs.”
After that incident, Stringfield alleges that she made her first outcry to the Principal of Devonian who informed her that she was aware of some of the practices. Then, in the Fall, Springfield claims she saw Mrs. Harmon drag a student across the floor causing rug burn only later to tell the child’s parents the burns were a result of the child running and falling.
Then, on November 20th of 2014, Mrs. Stringfield claims she was let go from Devonian and told she was not the right fit. This, after three days prior she had made her last outcry to the Principal. We contacted Lacie Stringfield’s lawyer about the lawsuit and allegations.
“I think there is more than enough evidence to conclude that she was terminated in retaliation for making those complains,” said Dan Ross of the Ross Law Group. “And I would like to say that Mrs. Stringfield is a very brave and courageous woman to come forward with this and that she is seeking to have this kind of activity cease and it’s not something that is an easy thing to do for anyone.”
Some of the requests of the temporary injunction are to make the classrooms more visible with cameras and half doors. Stringfield is also hoping to be reinstated into her position at Devonian Elementary.
Joann Wolfe tells us that CPS has not contacted her whether or not the investigation into alleged abuse against her grandson, Christopher has been completed. She is waiting to hear the outcome of their investigation.
We reached out to the teacher, Mrs. Harmon and did not receive a response. We also tried to speak to the Superintendent, Bobby Azam about the petition, but have yet to receive a response. We did reach out to the President of the AISD School Board before the petition was filed in regards to the situation. Dr. Pam Fisher said she could not comment, but that the Andrews School District puts their children first and cares very much about their safety and learning experience which is always a first priority.