Newton County

“I cannot believe it”: Community reacts after father kidnaps, kills 1-year-old daughter

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. — Community members are in shock after Darian Javaris Bennett kidnapped his 1-year-old daughter, killed the mother of the child and shot the child’s grandmother in the head.

“I get depressed watching TV, and now it’s next door to me,” neighbor Fred McClurkin told Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln.

It’s a headline Covington resident McClurkin says he didn’t expect would end up in his neighborhood.

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“This is some scary stuff we’re going through now,” he said.

He and his wife Cynthia say they were shocked to learn their friends and neighbors were killed Saturday night.

“We come outside, and they brought out two gurneys,” wife Cynthia McClurkin said.

Newton County Sheriff’s Office initiated an Amber Alert Saturday, after responding to this home.

Once inside they found 38-year-old Keashawn Washington shot to death and her mother 63-year-old Peggy Burns, who is currently listed in critical condition.


Sheriff deputies say this man Darian Bennett is responsible for the shooting.

Harming the mother and grandmother of 1-year-old Jaquari Bennett—who is his daughter.

Kidnapping her after the shootings around 7 a.m. Sunday morning, investigators were alerted to a 911 call from Bennett saying he was going to kill himself and his daughter.

Police found Bennett’s car behind this Riverdale church in a wooded area.

Shortly after arriving on scene, they heard gun shots, later finding both baby Jaquari and her father, dead.

“Why he chose the church I don’t know, but that’s a very secluded area,” Pastor Phillip McPherson Armstrong said.

Armstrong, Pastor of the Riverdale First United Baptist Church said they had cancel Sunday service after learning about the unfortunate crime scene.

“Police came into my office to explain we probably won’t be able to have worship service,” he said.

“It’s just a sad commentary of what’s going on in our world today, where people are taking their lives, taking the life of innocent people,” Armstrong said.

Reports of domestic violence have reached startling peaks since the start of the pandemic.

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Domestic violence counselors say in cases where children are present, that’s leads to an increase in the number of Amber Alert cases.

The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children reports in 2020, 63 percent of all amber alerts issued were for family abduction cases.

In McClurkin’s neighborhood, friends say they are still in disbelief this family is now apart of that statistic.

“I just cannot believe it, I just, and now the baby is dead, those two kids they lost their mother and their sister, my heart goes out to the family and friends,” Cynthia McClurkin said.


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