Cops: Lyft driver fatally shot in DeKalb; suspect killed after firing at officers

Slain woman was Peachtree Corners councilman’s daughter

A Lyft driver was gunned down Monday night by a man who got into a fight with her passenger as she arrived at her destination, according to DeKalb County police. A few minutes later, that suspect was shot and killed by officers at a nearby gas station after police said he fired at them.

Officers were called around 8:30 p.m. to the area of Cedar Croft Court in Redan, where they found 31-year-old Lauren Allen dead inside her vehicle from apparent gunshot wounds, police said. Allen was the daughter of Peachtree Corners Councilman Joe Sawyer, according to city officials.

“I am so sorry to learn that my dear friend and fellow council member, Joe Sawyer’s daughter Lauren was shot and killed in Lithonia,” Councilwoman Lorri Christopher said in a statement on social media. “Please keep him and his family in your prayers during this trying time.”

According to police, Allen had just dropped off a passenger when the person got into a fight with the suspect, later identified as 23-year-old Lerelle Chatman of Lithonia, according to investigators.

Police said Chatman fired several rounds at Allen’s vehicle, fatally striking her.

“Our hearts are with the victim and their loved ones as they confront this unspeakable tragedy,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “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.”

In a statement, Peachtree Corners spokesperson Louis Svehla said city officials are in contact with the family “and have assured them that as a work family and friends, we are here to provide any support they may need.”

Shortly after the shooting, police encountered Chatman less than a mile away at a Shell station on Covington Highway at Wellborn Road. He began shooting at officers with a rifle, damaging several patrol vehicles and a civilian’s vehicle, GBI officials said.

Several officers returned fire, striking Chatman, according to the GBI. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

One officer sustained minor injuries, though it was not clear how the injury happened.

A witness, Terri Maultsby, told Channel 2 Action News that she was in a car with her daughter when they heard what they initially thought were fireworks around 8:45 p.m. They quickly realized it was about a dozen gunshots and called 911 immediately, she said.

Crime scene tape was quickly strung up around the parking lot, and parts of the lot remained cordoned off Tuesday morning, news footage showed.

The GBI will conduct an independent investigation. Once completed, it will turn over its findings to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office for review.

In a GoFundMe campaign, Allen’s family said she was a “beautiful woman of God whose spirit and energy was as bright and vibrant as the sun.” Allen was a “blessing and joy to her parents Joseph and Kim” and was a hard-working single mother to three children who she loved dearly, her family said.

“Our hearts are heavy,” they wrote. “Many family and friends are mourning because of this shocking tragedy.”

Monday’s incident was the third officer-involved shooting the GBI has been tasked with investigating within 34 hours and the 106th this year.

Just hours before, the GBI was called to Clayton County, where they said an officer fatally shot a 19-year-old as he tried to drive away in an alleged stolen vehicle around 11:40 a.m.

ExploreGBI: Clayton County officer fatally shoots teen suspected of stealing car

The teen, Eric Holmes, had approached an officer who was investigating a report of a stolen car in a warehouse parking lot on Jonesboro Road just south of Morrow, according to the GBI. He initiated a conversation with the officer, stopped abruptly, got in the car and tried to drive away. The officer ordered Holmes to stop, and when he didn’t, opened fire, the GBI said.

Holmes got away but was injured and crashed a short distance away. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Just over 24 hours earlier, around 10 a.m. Sunday, Paulding County sheriff’s deputies exchanged gunfire with a man they said first fired at them during a traffic stop. Billy Wayne Denton, 36, was eventually apprehended after a short pursuit and a second exchange of gunfire. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.