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Georgia inmate shoots 24-year-old kitchen helper in prison kitchen

An inmate shot and killed a 24-year-old woman who was working in the prison kitchen before turning the gun on himself.

The fatal shooting occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning at Smith State Prison in rural southeast Georgia.

Jaydrekus Hart shot the kitchen worker in the prison kitchen at about 4:30 a.m. The kitchen worker, an employee of the food company Aramark, was identified as Aureon Shavea Grace.

The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) is investigating.

The kitchen worker, an employee of the food service company Aramark, was later identified as 24-year-old Aureon Shavea Grace
The kitchen worker, an employee of the food service company Aramark, was later identified as 24-year-old Aureon Shavea Grace (Matthew H Lovett & Sons Funeral Home LLC)

“The weapon is currently in the custody of the GDC and a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident is underway,” the department said. The Independent“GDC special agents are on site and providing personnel support to the facility.”

Hart was serving a 20-year prison sentence for manslaughter in Carroll County and is expected to be released in June 2043.

It is unclear how Hart obtained the weapon. A prison spokesman said more details would be released as soon as they were available.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and our thoughts and prayers are with her family,” Aramark spokeswoman Debbie Albert said in a statement. “This is a tragedy for all of us.”

The company assisted prison officials in Georgia with their investigation.

Inmate Jaydrekus Hart shot the 24-year-old food service worker in the prison kitchen at around 4:30 a.m. He then killed himself with the gun.
Inmate Jaydrekus Hart shot the 24-year-old food service worker in the prison kitchen at around 4:30 a.m. He then killed himself with the gun. (Georgia Department of Justice)

Friends and family paid tribute to Grace, describing her as “kind and good-hearted” with a “beautiful smile.”

“It was a pleasure working with you and getting to know you, especially your laugh and the fact that we both love to eat,” a colleague wrote on an obituary page. “Praying for your family and babies. We will truly miss you.”

One wrote: “Sending prayers and love to the family, especially her children. She was a truly sweet young lady, a close friend to my daughter, we will truly miss her. We love you.”

“Your spirit and charisma were Grace through and through. So kind and pure of heart, you didn't deserve this,” another person posted.

This is the second fatal incident at Smith State Prison in less than a year, following the killing of a correctional officer in October.

Correctional officer Robert Clark was escorting two offenders out of the dining room when one of the offenders attacked him from behind with a homemade weapon, the GDC said at the time.

The other offender rushed to Clark's aid and was also attacked. Clark, 42, was taken to hospital for treatment but later succumbed to his injuries and died.

“The entire GDC team mourns the loss of one of our own and we extend our deepest condolences to Officer Clark’s family and friends,” Commissioner Tyrone Oliver said in a statement at the time.

“We will support them in the coming days, weeks and months as they deal with this tragedy.”

Anna Harden

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