‘Unspeakable act’: Victims of Midtown shootings remembered as devoted family men

Credit: Arvin Temkar / Arvin.Temkar@ajc.com

Credit: Arvin Temkar / Arvin.Temkar@ajc.com

The suspect in a series of Midtown shootings that left two dead and one injured was quickly apprehended, but for the victims’ families, the long and endless road of mourning is just getting started.

Michael Shinners, 60, and Wesley Freeman, 41, were killed when 34-year-old Raissa Kengne opened fire at two locations Monday afternoon, according to Atlanta police. Mike Horne also was shot, and a fourth victim was held at gunpoint but was uninjured.

Shinners and Horne were found in the management office of the 1280 West condominium building on West Peachtree Street around 1:45 p.m., police said. Beacon Management Services, the company that manages the condo, confirmed Shinners was the property manager and Horne is the chief building engineer.

Freeman was shot about 30 minutes later at an office tower at 1100 Peachtree Street. He was Kengne’s direct supervisor at BDO USA, a public accounting firm, between 2019 and 2021, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

Kengne was later arrested at the international terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. She faces multiple counts of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and illegal weapons charges. She was denied bond at her first appearance hearing Tuesday.

ExploreSuspect in Midtown shootings denied bond during 1st court appearance

Funeral arrangements for the deceased victims had not been announced as of Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement, Freeman’s family said they are “grieving the loss of an exemplary husband, son, brother, friend and co-worker.”

They described him as “exceedingly kind,” gentle and a friend to many who was “always quick with a joke” and “loved fiercely and with his whole heart.”

Credit: Contributed by Alicia Freeman

Credit: Contributed by Alicia Freeman

The family thanked those who shared condolences and words of encouragement, adding that the support is “needed, both now and moving forward, as we work through grieving the loss of Wes and the hole that will never be filled in our hearts and lives.”

A family friend put together a GoFundMe campaign for Freeman’s wife to raise funds for “everyday expenses and any additional hardships tied to unexpectedly losing a loved one.”

In their own statement, Shinners’ family said that “devastation and heartbreak do not even begin to describe the immense shock and sadness that has overtaken our family following the tragic and senseless loss of Michael Shinners.”

Credit: Contributed by the Shinners Family

Credit: Contributed by the Shinners Family

The father of three “lit up every room he walked into” and was described as an “upstanding professional who was accredited at the top level of his field.”

In public social media posts, Shinners’ friends and coworkers expressed their sadness and disbelief at the news of his death.

“This unspeakable act has taken away a genuinely wonderful individual, (and) more importantly, a loving husband and father, and deprived so many others, including us all, of a friend,” wrote one woman who said she worked alongside Shinners in their local chapter of the Community Association Institute.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for Shinners’ family, and another fundraiser is aimed at helping both the victims and condominium staff.

Horne’s family publicly shared updates about his condition on social media, saying his vitals were good as of Wednesday after initially being placed in a medically-induced coma.

“Thank you all for the prayers and well wishes,” his daughter, Alison Page, wrote in a public Facebook post. “I’ve read dad all the messages. He smiles big when he hears them. God and your prayers are healing him in ways that even doctors are surprised.”

She asked for prayers for all of the families involved, including the suspect’s family.

“There are many people whose lives are forever changed because of this,” Page wrote on Instagram. “I do not know everything that she was going through. I’ve only seen what she posted days prior. I can only assume she was angry. It is never okay to take someone’s life.”

A motive for the shootings hasn’t been disclosed by police, but a number of lawsuits filed by Kengne against some of the victims shed some light on the tension between them.

ExploreMidtown shootings suspect had sued victims, court records show

She was suing Shinners and Freeman, along with Beacon Management Services and BDO USA, alleging that they retaliated against her for being a whistleblower, broke into her home, persecuted her and blacklisted her from new job opportunities.

It is not clear if Kengne knew Horne personally.

Shinners’ family refuted Kengne’s claims, saying, “Michael never let any unauthorized person into anyone’s home. In fact, when made aware of the situation, Michael attempted to help the woman who would later take his life.”

“Michael’s death came at the hands of a distressed woman who made a reprehensible and unfathomable decision to end innocent lives,” the family said in the statement from their attorney. “We ask that our family is allowed to grieve in peace and that our beloved Michael’s memory is not distorted by inaccurate information.”

As for Freeman’s family, they said they “do not understand the deranged actions of the person who shot and killed Wes. We likely never will.”

“We are broken as a family,” they added. “In this and all things, may God be glorified.”

— Staff writer Caroline Silva contributed to this article.