Mother on ventilator after being shot in back of head at Atlanta apartment

Brittany McElrathbey was sitting on the couch when a bullet suddenly flew into her southwest Atlanta apartment.

Since the shooting Jan. 2, she has been on a ventilator and undergoing multiple surgeries, her family said.

“This was random and unexpected. ... I pray all day for her comfort,” her mother, Tonya McElrathbey, wrote in a GoFundMe campaign.

The apartment at the Retreat at Greenbriar on Continental Colony Parkway was filled with screams after gunfire came from outside, an incident report details. According to a witness and surveillance footage, it came from an all-black Dodge Challenger with tag number CRD4432.

Tonya McElrathbey said the bullet went through the back of her 30-year-old daughter’s head and out through her nose. A bullet hole was found in a window, on a couch and in an apartment wall, the report states.

Brittany McElrathbey’s 12-year-old son Tavion witnessed the shooting and told police he remembers looking out the window before hearing two gunshots moments after walking away.

When officers arrived at the scene shortly before 5 p.m., McElrathbey had already been taken to Grady Memorial Hospital by her mother.

McElrathbey’s older brother, Ray, who is a former Clemson University football player and subject of the Disney film “Safety,” told Channel 2 Action News that he doesn’t think his sister was targeted, and that “it’s a possible mistaken identity.”

The family is now trying to find another home as the suspect remains at large.

“It’s hard to sleep at night knowing this person is out there on the loose,” Ray McElrathbey told the news station. “This person has (wrecked) my life so much in just a matter of seconds, for no particular reason.”

Brittany McElrathbey and her 12-year-old son Tavion.

Credit: GoFundMe

icon to expand image

Credit: GoFundMe

The Retreat at Greenbriar, previously known as The Park at Greenbriar, is among 275 of the metro area’s persistently dangerous complexes, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Dangerous Dwellings” investigation that looked into serious crimes, lax maintenance and other hazards in Atlanta neighborhoods.

In December 2022, two teenagers, ages 14 and 16, were killed and three others were injured in a shooting at the complex. Police records list 117 crimes at the location from 2017 through July 2023. They include, in addition to the 2022 homicides, an August 2019 homicide, 37 aggravated assaults, seven robberies, three rapes and a child molestation.

Growing up, Brittany McElrathbey faced adversity. Her older brother previously told the AJC that their mother struggled with drug addiction, eventually leading him to take custody of Brittany and their 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr. In 2006, Ray McElrathbey was a sophomore safety at Clemson and brought his brother to live on campus with him in fear that he would end up in foster care.

“A lot of times when you hear about my story, you hear about me take care of my younger brother, but I also had my sister Brittany,” Ray McElrathbey told Channel 2.