A Newton County mother has been arrested on a murder charge in the shooting death of her 2-year-old daughter, authorities announced Wednesday morning.
The child, Natalya Bellah, was killed Tuesday at her home on Brown Thrasher Run near Oxford. Her mother, Jennifer Michelle Bellah, was initially detained for questioning.
She was arrested later Tuesday night. Sheriff’s deputies said Wednesday that Bellah will face charges of murder, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with her daughter’s death.
Bellah called 911 just before 6 p.m. Tuesday to report she “shot her 2-year-old daughter using a firearm,” Newton County sheriff’s spokeswoman Deputy Fevel Edwards said. Natalya was pronounced dead once authorities arrived.
Bellah lived at the home with the girl’s grandmother, but deputies said no one else was there when she was shot.
“It is believed Jennifer Bellah was alone with the child at the residence when the incident occurred and committed the crime without assistance,” Edwards said. “The family of Jennifer Bellah has fully cooperated with law enforcement.”
A pistol, a shell casing and bullets were recovered from the scene, Edwards said.
Authorities have not said what motivated the shooting.
Jackie Kendrick, who lives in the neighborhood, told Channel 2 Action News the girl’s death was unsettling. She would often see the family walking in the neighborhood. They “seemed to be just a happy family,” she said.
“I did not expect to come home and see this in my community,” Kendrick said. “I’m really sorry about that, and it breaks my heart. This was a baby. A 2-year-old baby. It’s devastating.”
Another neighbor, Michael Robinson, told the news station he saw the child playing in the front yard the day before her death.
"I just saw the little girl yesterday, and the mom, and I’m always waving to the grandparents,” Robinson said. “It’s just unthinkable.”
The GBI was expected to perform an autopsy Wednesday.