‘It’s just unbelievable’: Family seeking answers after mother shot in DeKalb

Colleen Harrington, 39, was shot to death in the area of Memorial and Mountain drives in DeKalb County on May 13.

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Colleen Harrington, 39, was shot to death in the area of Memorial and Mountain drives in DeKalb County on May 13.

When Patricia Harrington saw on the noon news broadcast that an unidentified woman had been fatally shot at a DeKalb County intersection, she had no idea that news would change her life forever.

That woman, she later learned, was her daughter.

Colleen Harrington, 39, was in the area of Memorial and Mountain drives around 6:30 a.m. on May 13 when she was shot, according to DeKalb police. When officers arrived, they found her dead.

No other details have been released about the shooting and investigators have not identified any suspects publicly. Police declined to answer further questions Friday.

Patricia Harrington didn’t find out that her daughter had been killed until that evening when an officer called her and delivered the news by phone, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I said, ‘She was what? She was shot?’” she exasperatedly recounted. “I just couldn’t believe it. I could not believe that somebody would do that. You know, I just — it was just, of course very upsetting. And, you know, you just — it’s just unbelievable.”

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Colleen Harrington

Credit: Contributed Photo

Colleen Harrington

Credit: Contributed Photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Colleen Harrington

Credit: Contributed Photo

Credit: Contributed Photo

She and her husband, Mark, were both in shock, but they quickly shifted into work mode to gather information the detective asked of them, she said.

Colleen, who had a 3-year-old daughter, was the second-oldest among four siblings: Kathy Eller, Chris Harrington and Shannon Fowler. The family moved to Georgia from Minnesota just over 30 years ago, and Colleen worked at OK Cafe for several years before she suffered a brain injury in a car wreck that left her disabled.

“She was trusting of people before that, but she kind of let her guard down after that,” her mother said, adding that her daughter struggled with memory sometimes, “but she still was this independent person and wanted to (keep being) independent.”

Colleen had recently moved to DeKalb, but her mother doesn’t know why she was walking along Memorial Drive that Friday morning. The county jail is just a quarter-mile from where Colleen was found, and the juvenile court is located at that intersection, with the medical examiner’s office right around the corner. There also is a business plaza opposite the court.

Patricia Harrington worries her daughter may have trusted others too much.

“You just wonder about who she was out there with,” she said. “She let her guard down a lot and took chances.”

Colleen didn’t share much with her parents about the people she met, her mother said, “but she was loved by so many people.”

With police not disclosing any details to the family, they hope that by sharing Colleen’s story, someone will come forward with information about what happened to her.

They plan to store her ashes in Minnesota next to her grandmother, with whom she was very close.