Clayton County

Police identify 15-year-old girl shot to death at high school birthday party in Clayton County

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Yet another metro area teen killed by gun violence And police say she wasn’t the intended target.

Officers say 15-year-old Laila Harris was shot as she tried to avoid gunfire from someone angry at being thrown out of a party.

Community activists organized a news conference to speak about all the violence.

“Each and every day someone is dying due to the gun violence,” Meia Ballinger said.

They say too often, it’s a child.

“We recently lost a 15-year-old child. This is ridiculous,” Ballinger said.

Clayton County police say 15 year old Laila Harris was doing what most kids do. Enjoying a party thrown for metro-area high school students around 11 Saturday night on Citizens Parkway near Morrow.

But trouble started when someone at the party was escorted off the property.

“He came back with an accomplice and he shot up the location,” Julia Isaac with Clayton County Police said at a news conference.


As students ran for cover, Laila was hit and killed.

Community activists at a separate news conference said the killing of kids, often by kids, is out of control.

“It’s like they don’t care about the repercussions. Or the punishment,” Gerald Rose with New Order Human Rights Organization said.

They say we need to keep guns out of the hands of children. And people need to speak up if they know something.

Ballinger says parents also need to do a better job of monitoring their children.

“It starts at home. We need parenting. We need our teachers. Our preachers,” she said.

“I just want justice for my son,” said mother, Karena Mathews.

She spoke at the news conference organized by the Community Activists. She said her 19 year old son was murdered along with a 16 year old back in October. Mathews said the killer hasn’t been caught.

She said each time another child is killed It only adds to her pain.

“It’s just sad. You know something got to be done,” she said.

Officers are looking at surveillance video and following leads in hopes of finding the shooter.

Police are asking anyone with any information to contact them.

Click on this link to see how your can help Laila’s family transport her body back to St. Louis where she will be laid to rest.


Police have identified a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed during a party in Clayton County.

On Saturday night, officers responded to a shooting call at a business off Citizens Parkway. Police said they found Laila Harris, 15 of Marietta, dead from a gunshot wound near the front entrance.

The shooting happened at a party attended by students from high schools around the metro area, according to investigators.

Police said someone who was kicked out of the party later returned with an accomplice and shot multiple rounds into the crowd. The shots scattered the hundreds of teens at the party.

Police said Harris got caught in the crossfire.


On WSB Tonight, nearby business owners told Channel 2 Action News Larry Spruill that there are constant parties at the event space and that partygoers often leave trash on the ground.

There were also times when cars were broken into during these large events, but the business owners said they never expected someone to be shot and killed. No description of the shooter has been released.

Harris’ uncle confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that a GoFundMe has been set up for funeral expenses.

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