Lyft driver shot near DeKalb County gas station by man in dispute with passenger
Alleged shooter killed by responding police officers
LITHONIA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The female victim has been identified as 31-year-old Lauren Allen.
An initial investigation determined Allen was a Lyft driver dropping off someone who got into a “domestic dispute” with the suspected shooter, 23-year-old Lerelle Chatman.
Chatman reportedly fired at the Lyft driver’s vehicle multiple times. Responding officers shot Chatman a short distance from the initial scene.
Allen was the daughter of Peachtree Corners council member Joe Sawyer. In a statement, the family said,
“On behalf of our family, please pray for us as we mourn this senseless and tragic loss of this beautiful woman of God. Please help support her parents Joe Sawyer and Kimberly Sawyer as we are all grieving at this shocking and tragic loss. Our hearts are heavy, but we know she is with Jesus now. Lauren leaves behind 3 beautiful children and many loved ones who welcome your prayers and support.”
Lyft issued the following statement:
“Our hearts are with the victim and their loved ones as they confront this unspeakable tragedy. We have reached out to the driver’s family to offer our support and have reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation.”
The DeKalb County Police Department says an investigation is underway after a shooting involving a police officer.
Police roped off a Shell gas station at the corner of Covington Highway and Wellbourne Drive in Lithonia with crime scene tape Monday night.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it was asked to conduct an independent investigation by the DeKalb County Police Department after one man was shot and killed and one officer sustained minor injuries.
The GBI’s preliminary information indicates that at 8:28 p.m., DKPD officers responded to a 911 call about a homicide that just happened in the area of Cedar Croft Court in Lithonia. As officers were searching for the subject involved in the homicide, they encountered 23-year-old Lerelle Chatman, of Lithonia, armed with a rifle less than a mile away at the Shell Gas Station in the 6400 block of Covington Highway. Chatman began shooting at officers, damaging several patrol vehicles and a civilian’s vehicle. Several DKPD returned fire, shooting Chatman, who died at the scene.
A witness tells Atlanta News First that she was driving with her daughter and friends on Wellborn Road when they heard loud sounds and realized something bad had happened involving a Lyft car.
“We realized it was gunshots. It was ten to 15 gunshots,” said Terri Maultsby, a witness who said she drove by at the time of the shooting. “We could see the lights going off in that car and hear the gunshots going off in that vehicle. Somebody opened that door, but we didn’t wait to see who was coming out of that vehicle. And when the door opened, we could see smoke coming out of that vehicle as well.”
The woman went on to describe trying to get away from the gunshots.
“Going through my mind is, ‘take cover.’ You know, I’m a backseat passenger, so everybody else in the car besides the driver was trying to duck down low, the driver was trying to be cautious and not have an accident while they passed the car,” said Maultsby.
With schools and neighborhoods nearby, Maultsby was outraged over the lack of public concern by the shooter.
“It’s senseless. It’s the holiday season, I can’t even imagine what’s going on,” said Maultsby.
The incident still had the intersection closed Tuesday morning.
The scene was clearing, and the roads opened back up just before 8 a.m.
The GBI continues its independent investigation.
This is the 106th officer involved shooting the GBI has been requested to investigate in 2022.
Copyright 2022 WANF. All rights reserved.