Carmen Cai Yi Lee was happiest when she was helping others.
“She was the most gentle soul. Selfless,” Lee’s boyfriend, Petrus Reyes, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She was always doing something for someone else. I had to remind her, ‘Stop let’s take care of yourself first.’”
Those closest to Lee are struggling to understand who would hurt her. As she drove home Saturday night, Lee was shot to death on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, just south of Tilly Mill Road, according to Doraville police. Around 9:30 p.m., a concerned officer saw a vehicle stopped in the roadway. Lee was unresponsive in the driver’s seat and died from her injuries, police said.
The 25-year-old, a week away from her birthday, is among the latest victims of at least 30 shootings this year on roadways in metro Atlanta and surrounding counties. Lee is one of 10 who have died after being shot while driving or riding in cars, according to police.
Many of the cases have been attributed to road rage, according to investigators. Tuesday night, two men were shot to death in a car in College Park, causing a three-vehicle crash on I-285, police said.
Investigators believe the men, traveling in a BMW sedan, were shot during a road rage incident before veering out of their lane and colliding with a Nissan Altima and a Ford SUV. The driver of the BMW was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and died shortly after arriving, authorities said. Neither of their names had been released as of late Wednesday.
The shooter’s vehicle wasn’t located, College Park police said. Most of the road shootings remain unsolved, according to metro police agencies. Nothing indicates the shootings are related.
Doraville investigators remain hopeful that someone will come forward with information about the shooting that killed Lee.
News of an increase in crime and gun violence in metro Atlanta scared Lee, Reyes said. She had recently started carrying pepper spray, just in case she was ever confronted.
On Wednesday, Reyes said he can’t imagine what might have happened in the moments leading up to his girlfriend’s shooting. Lee’s family is trying to imagine life without her.
Lee, Reyes said, was the glue that held her family together. Lee’s parents came to the U.S. from their native Malaysia before she was born. The oldest of three, she made it her mission to serve not only as a role model to her younger brothers but also to help her parents, who weren’t native English speakers.
“Being the older child meant she had the most responsibility,” her younger brother wrote on a GoFundMe page. “She was put in the position of taking care of our parents and her younger siblings. Yet, even with all that responsibility on her shoulders, she never gave in but persevered through her hardships to get to where she was.”
Lee graduated from the University of Georgia in 2018 with a degree in finance and worked as a financial portfolio analyst, Reyes said. The couple had planned to buy a home together in Duluth, where Lee had grown up, so she could be closer to her parents.
When she wasn’t working or helping her family, Lee loved to be surrounded by her friends, being outdoors and had recently picked up two very different hobbies: pottery and snowboarding. When she found a new interest, she dove in headfirst, Reyes said. She was a loyal friend to many, he said.
“We have an angel up there,” Reyes said.
Lee’s funeral will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the Peachtree Corners Chapel of Crowell Brothers Funeral Homes and Crematory, according to her online obituary.
Police agencies in metro Atlanta and surrounding counties have investigated at least 30 roadway shootings in 2021, killing 10 people. Most recently:
Tuesday: Two men died after being shot in a car on I-285 in College Park
Saturday: Carmen Lee, 25, was shot while driving on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Doraville