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A 16-year-old high school student was killed during a drive-by shooting at a graduation party early Saturday morning. Three other people were injured.
Investigators say the shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. Saturday on Levi Barnes Road near Jackson in Butts County, which is about 52 miles southeast of Atlanta.
While teenagers were leaving the party and walking to their cars out on the street, bullets flew from a passing car, hitting four people, according to investigators.
“It just happened so quick,” said David Willis, who hosted the party at his house for a relative. “Just a sad thing that happened, you know. I hate that it happened.”
“Everybody was having a nice time until it was over with, that’s when it all took place,” Willis said.
Loved ones identified the victim as Cederrius Hastings, 16, a sophomore at Griffin High School. Two males and a female were also shot and taken to a hospital in stable condition, authorities said. One male was treated and released, a second was scheduled to be released Sunday, and the female was still in the hospital Sunday.
“The young man that passed away was shot in the chest, and then there was one that was shot in the back, and the other two were shot in the lower extremities,” said Major Darrell Powers of the Butts County Sheriff’s Office.
All four gunshot victims are from Griffin in Spalding County, according to Powers. Investigators also believe the people in the shooter’s car were from Griffin. Powers said investigators have identified persons of interest and a vehicle of interest. Nine shell casings were found at the scene, he said.
“We don’t know that there was actually a target,” said Powers. “I’m sure there’s a reason. That’s something that we’re investigating at this point, trying to determine a motive for everything.”
Friends and relatives of Hastings said he was loved by many.
“He was very outgoing. He’ll talk to anybody and everybody. He would love to make you laugh,” said Destiny Wellmaker, who recently went to the prom with Hastings. “He was a very positive person.”
Destiny pleaded for the people responsible to turn themselves in. Hastings played football and was the father of a baby girl, according to friends and family.
“When I found out, it was just heartbreaking,” said his cousin, Tyveon Coggins, who also attends Griffin High School. “He was a good person, and it just hurts to see someone take his life like that.”
Coggins said his cousin had dreams of becoming a chef.