Family, city leaders still coping with 7-year-old’s death after suspect’s arrest

A day after U.S. marshals arrested a man accused of firing the shot that killed a 7-year-old girl in Buckhead, those who loved her — and those who were outraged by her death — are still working to come to terms with her murder.

Kennedy Maxie’s family has yet to publicly speak about the child’s tragic death. When an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter phoned the Maxie home Thursday regarding the high-profile case, the voice that responded on the other end sounded simultaneously restless and exhausted. Mariah Maxie demurely said she is not ready to discuss the sudden loss of her daughter.

Police in Atlanta are still in the process of extraditing 24-year-old Daquan Reed from Hampton, Virginia, where he was taken into custody Wednesday morning in connection with the little girl’s death. She was shot in the back of the head while Christmas shopping with her family four days before the holiday.

Kennedy, who lived in Cobb County and attended Sedalia Park Elementary, was riding in a car with her mother and aunt near Phipps Plaza when gunshots rang out.

“To take a poor, innocent child’s life like that, he certainly needs to be brought to justice and justice needs to be served,” Felicia Moore, Atlanta City Council president, told the AJC on Wednesday, just hours after authorities announced Reed’s arrest.

Kennedy’s death hit what was already a raw nerve with Atlantans. It came during a historically deadly year in the city, during which the police department investigated more homicides than it has in more than two decades.

More than 20 children and teenagers were shot in the metro area last year, including 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, who was killed July 4 while riding in a car with her mother. One man has been charged in that case, though investigators said others were also responsible.

“These are children. It’s hard and it hurts and it’s unacceptable,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a news conference after Kennedy’s death. “We were here with Secoriea Turner’s family and now we’re back here again.”

She also attended a family news conference after Secoriea’s death, saying, “Enough is enough.”

Investigators said Kennedy’s shooting stemmed from a fight between Reed and other men in a mall parking lot. When the argument ended, Reed left the parking lot in a car, “and in a senseless act of rage, discharged a firearm out that window,” Atlanta homicide detective Lt. Pete Malecki told the media. At least three shots were fired, and one entered the car Kennedy was riding in, Malecki said.

Kennedy remained at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite until she died the day after Christmas.

Police obtained warrants for Reed’s arrest Dec. 29. In addition to felony murder, he is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and reckless conduct.

“What we believe right now is we have the sole shooter who killed Kennedy,” Malecki said.

In the wake of Kennedy’s death, Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook criticized the city’s response to the rise in violence. Shook, in his fifth term representing a large portion of Buckhead, said more leadership was needed without directly mentioning Bottoms.

On Thursday, Shook expressed gratitude that Reed was taken into custody.

“I want to thank those who contributed to the suspect’s apprehension in Virginia,” he told the AJC. “If justice prevails, this will be his last arrest. I pray it provides some measure of relief to the family.”

It was the second mall shooting in which Reed has been accused, according to reports. In October 2019, Reed and another man were arrested by U.S. marshals in Atlanta in connection with a shooting at a mall in Norfolk, Virginia. That shooting stemmed from a confrontation involving a third man and left that man and a 56-year-old bystander injured.

Reed pleaded guilty to a count of accessory after the fact. He was sentenced to a year in prison with nine months suspended, meaning he spent three months behind bars from the day after his sentence was announced. Prior to the shootings, Reed had “several cycles” in the criminal justice system, including a 2018 conviction for forgery, according to Malecki.

Reed is currently in custody pending an extradition hearing before a Virginia judge. No details were available about the time or date of the hearing, but according to Atlanta police, Reed could arrive back in Georgia by the end of next week if he does not contest being relocated before the court.

Kennedy’s family friends created a GoFundMe page to help with expenses. As of Thursday evening, the GoFundMe had raised more than $69,000. The family held a private funeral for Kennedy on Saturday.