A Georgia man who shot dead his ex-wife and two of their children had fought over child custody.
Cedric Prather Jr.’s shooting rampage began just after 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Prather, 33, parked about a quarter mile away and walked inside the suburban Atlanta home of his ex-wife, Latoya A. Andrews, police said.
Those who knew him say his three children were his whole life, but when he lost his job as a truck driver recently, the pressure to support them may have led him to snap and kill them, his sister said Monday.
Haunting: Cedric Prather, 33, pictured center with Latoya and their children, was seen pacing outside the house before he went inside and starting shooting
Prather had enough ammunition to shoot even more people, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
At some point during the shooting spree he stopped to reload the .45-caliber handgun, Capt. Bruce Ferguson said.
Prather gunned down Andrews and her boyfriend, Joseph Terry Brown, and killed two of Prather’s children, including one who begged him not to pull the trigger, police said.
He also shot two other children, leaving them critically injured. He then killed himself in the street.
‘His children were his life,’ Prather’s sister Jerdonna Sawyer told The Associated Press. ‘He wasn’t crazy at all. He just chose a terrible way to deal with his pressure and his stress.’
Prather left no note explaining his actions, Douglas County sheriff’s Capt. Bruce Ferguson said.
‘I can’t tell you why he did it,’ Ferguson said. ‘All I can do is to say he snapped or he had enough is what we’ve concluded in our investigation.’
Horrifying: After gunman shot Andrews (pictured) and her family members he turned the gun on himself. Neighbors said some of the victims were left dying in the street
Tragic: Andrews (left) and her boyfriend Terry Brown were pronounced dead at the scene
According to the Atlanta Constitution Journal, Prather, the father of all of the children involved, had driven to the house dressed in black and paced up and down outside before barging in.
Three of the girls then ran from the house, with the eldest begging him to stop, before they were all shot.
Residents nearby said they were then left bleeding in the street before Prather turned the gun on himself.
The family’s eldest son, a teenager, was playing basketball at the time of the shooting, and did not find out what happened until he was on his way home.
The victims were supposed to attend, the paper reported, but they did not make it.
Teresa Carter, 59, said she heard the gunfire from inside her home but did not see what happened. Police said victims were shot inside and outside the home.
Carter said she often saw the children playing in the driveway and around the neighborhood. They enjoyed petting her dog.
‘I heard shots, and I heard the girl scream,’ Carter said. ‘And then I heard four more shots.’
Brandon Hallman was working on a car a few houses down when the shooting started.
‘I heard a couple quick shots, you know, back to back to back. Went out there and, you know, looked and it was already over,’ Hallman said. ‘We just grabbed some towels and kind of went down there to try and help before the paramedics got here.’
Heartbreaking: The man accused of killing his ex-wife, her boyfriend and two children had enough ammunition to shoot even more people, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Monday
Vigil:Three of the girls then ran from the house, with the eldest begging him to stop, before they were all shot
Tragedy: A family portrait sits by the fireplace inside a home as police investigate the shooting scene
A motive for the shooting has not been released, however police twice visited the pair’s house in 2013 responding to a domestic abuse complaint.
Neighbor Nick Cook added: ‘It was over the stupidest things. It was over child support and taxes.’
A GoFundMe page raising money for Ms Andrews’ surviving children pays tribute to the family.
‘Saturday Febrary 7th 2015 was a very tragic day. We had to say goodbye to three beautiful people,’ writes the group administrator Jenny Brown.
Another neighbor, Angela Ansah, struggled to explain to her own children what happened to their slain friends a few houses down. Ansah said some of the children targeted Saturday often came over to her house to play with her own children.
‘These are children I see every day, every blessed day,’ Ansah said.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Daniel said authorities received a 911 call Saturday afternoon suggesting there had been a shooting in Douglasville.
Prather left the military when Andrews was pregnant with their first child to be with her and help support the family. He moved about a dozen miles down the road to Douglasville from Villa Rica to be closer to his children after he and Andrews divorced and she moved, even though it meant moving farther from his close-knit family, Sawyer said.
He felt enormous stress from trying to be a provider and a parent, and that was exacerbated recently when he lost his job as a truck driver because his driver’s license was suspended, Sawyer said.
Shaken community: At some point during the shooting spree, Cedric Prather stopped to reload the .45-caliber handgun, police say. Prather used the same gun to then shoot and kill himself
Silhouette: Another portrait hangs on the wall inside the home as forensics comb the scene
Horrifying: Neighbors described how paramedics were treating victims as they lay in the street. A police officer holds his hand over his face as he stands in the doorway
Court records show Prather and Andrews divorced in 2006, and Sawyer said the two had gone back and forth over their children since then. Andrews got a protective order against him a year and a half ago, court records show.
Prather killed his 7-year-old daughter, London, and 9-year-old son, Jeremiah. He also critically wounded Andrews’ 15-year-old daughter, Demeshia Owens, and Brown’s 7-year-old daughter, Jada Brown.
Prather’s oldest child, a 13-year-old boy, was not home at the time.
Andrews had asked judge for a temporary protective order in August 2013. At one point, she wrote, Prather forced his way inside her locked home when she was there alone. He also pinned her down on the stairs and sexually assaulted her, she wrote in a court filing.
Investigation: A detective stands in the doorway of a home hours after the murder suicide
Area: Police stood round the cordon late into the evening following the deadly shooting
The court documents didn’t indicate whether criminal charges were ever sought, and there is no record of charges.
The judge ordered Prather to stay away from Andrews and her home. Meetings for him to pick up and drop off the children were to take place in the Douglasville Police Department parking lot, according to the order, which expired October 9.
In December 2013, the state officials said in a court filing that Prather owed $31,800 in past-due child support. He and Andrews eventually reached a custody agreement in last May that allowed the children to spend about half their time with their father.
A few months later, the court issued a final order for him to pay $437 a month in child support and pay a past-due sum to be determined.
Police said the pair also fought about taxes but could not provide any more details about that.
Prather used a .45-caliber handgun to shoot all the victims and himself, and stopped at least once to reload. The sheriff’s office is working with federal authorities to see if he bought the gun legally.
Prather’s family is feeling deep grief and is also heartbroken for the families of Andrews and Brown, Sawyer said.
‘We’re all hurting,’ she said. ‘We’ve all had a great loss.’
Tributes arriving: Kenya Beyah (left) who lives in the neighborhood, leaves flowers and teddy bears with her sister Nia Beyah