Funeral to be held for woman killed trying to break up fight - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Funeral to be held Monday for woman killed trying to break up fight


The woman killed while trying to break up a fight in her Austell neighborhood will be laid to rest Monday.

Jason Coleman said he's in shock and living a nightmare. His wife Deirdre Smith is dead, gunned down in the parking lot in front of their home.

"She was here and then she was gone. It happened so fast. Honestly, I can't even tell you what really happened," Coleman said.

Witnesses said Smith was trying to break up a fight between two teenage girls when two men, who were arguing nearby, exchanged gunfire. Smith suffered a fatal wound. Khalil Kelly, a 17-year-old who lives in the area, has been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault.

"He needs to get the death penalty. He needs to get the death penalty," said Coleman.

Some people who live in the area said their neighborhood is not used to violence.

"The people that were involved were new elements that moved into the community. We now have to deal with them and get them out of our community," said Ricardo Sinclair.
Coleman said his wife was a good-hearted woman who cared about others. Smith is survived by her husband, two daughters and three grandchildren.

"She was a great woman of God," he said. "She loved God dearly with all her heart. There is nothing negative I can really say about her. She helped people. She had a giving heart and she was really talented."

Her employer, Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority, released the following statement:

"It is with the deepest level of heartache that FACAA announces the tragic and untimely death of one of its own, Deirdre Smith, who lost her life while in the process of trying to create peace in her Austell townhome community the evening of September 16. Deirdre was caught in the crossfire during an ongoing dispute between two women that later escalated to a gunfire exchange between two men. The end result was the fatality as well as several children being hurt and hospitalized for minor injuries.

"The 47-year old mother of two and grandmother of three was not only a dedicated employee of FACAA, but she is also the daughter of the agency's long time Vice President of Programs, Yvonne Beckles-Thomas. She played an integral role as an administrator for FACAA's LIHEAP (energy assistance) program, wherein she was an important factor in its success. In addition to being a doting mother, grandmother and employee, she was also a minister of the Gospel, author, vocalist and cosmetologist.

"We are beyond heartbroken concerning this matter," states Dr. Joyce Dorsey, President and CEO of FACAA, the Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority. The nonprofit has served the metro Atlanta community since 1991 by helping residents achieve economic self-sufficiency. Ironically, Deirdre's personality bore a striking resemblance to the mission of the organization. "Deirdre had a warm and loving spirit. She was truly a strong force in the hearts of many," adds Dr. Dorsey. "She was one who loved God and all people. She did not mind lending a helping hand, whether it meant praying for someone or helping provide food, clothing or shelter. She was simply a compassionate and peaceful person who was special to everyone she had the opportunity to interact with. I know she made a difference in the lives of many; thus, her living was not in vain."

"The void created by Deirdre's tragic departure is immeasurable. Services have been entrusted to Eppinger and Sons Funeral Home in Cartersville. The celebration of her life will be held Monday, September 23 at noon (with viewing beginning at 10:00 a.m.), Allen Temple AME Church, 232 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock, GA 30188. Flowers can be sent to Allen Temple AME Church and monetary donations can be sent to Yvonne Thomas on behalf of Deirdre's children and grandchildren."

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