Charlese Brooks’ family says she was shot and killed Tuesday night trying to stop violence between two women.
“The peacemakers are always the victims,” Brooks’ aunt, Charleen Dennis, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.
The woman accused of shooting Brooks, Terri Chimon Williams, 34, turned herself in to police Wednesday morning and is being charged with murder, police said.
Brooks, a 35-year-old entrepreneur and mother of four who had recently taken in six foster children, was trying to stop an altercation between her friend and a woman she didn’t know, relatives said.
It is unclear what caused the argument, but the fight, Dennis believes, stemmed from a text message.
“I don’t know what it said, but I would love to know,” she said.
The shooting happened around 6:30 p.m. on the sidewalk of the 800 block of Bouldercrest Road, near the Brick House Restaurant in East Atlanta, police said.
Brooks stepped in to stop a fight and the would-be combatants separated, Dennis said. But Williams allegedly returned with a weapon and opened fire.
“It’s sad that she was the only one who was hit,” Dennis said of her niece. “She didn’t have anything to do with the fight.”
Dennis said Brooks’ mother and several of her children witnessed the shooting.
“The whole family is hurting,” she said. “Words can’t explain.”
Brooks died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds, Atlanta police homicide unit commander Capt. Paul Guerrucci said.
In a statement emailed to The AJC Wednesday morning after Williams surrendered, attorney W. Scott Smith declared his client’s innocence.
“Ms. Terri Williams voluntarily presented herself to detectives this morning,” Smith said. “We feel that law enforcement will perform a thorough and professional investigation into this incident. We strongly believe that Ms. Williams will be fully exonerated.”
Guerrucci said investigators continue to probe the shooting, but hasn’t confirmed the claims that Brooks’ family made about the text message or Brooks’ attempt to stop the argument.
“There are a lot of dynamics to this case,” he said. “Information that we gathered during their preliminary stage of our investigation indicates that there was a verbal argument that escalated into the shooting. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Relatives said Brooks owned a used car dealership and a moving truck rental franchise in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown community, and a tax preparation business in Atlanta. She also recently had purchased a home in Rex, they said.
Her children are a 19-year-old college football player, girls ages 14 and 13, and a 4-year-old boy, relatives said.
Brooks, Dennis said, was well known for her charitable spirit.
“She’s a beautiful, kind and loving person,” Dennis said of her niece. “She would take in homeless people. She’ll give you her last.”
That giving nature showed in a past stint as a foster parent — a responsibility Dennis said Brooks had taken on again in recent months, taking in five brothers and a sister.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to those kids,” she said.
The investigation continues.
— Staff reporters Alexis Stevens and Mike Morris and staff photographer Ben Gray contributed to this article.