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Security guard faces charges

By Ed Brock

As the teen she is accused of shooting still struggled to live, a security guard for a Riverdale grocery store made her first appearance in court.

Kathryn Smith, 30, of Atlanta, has been charged with aggravated assault and carrying a weapon without a permit in connection with the shooting Wednesday night of 16-year-old Courtney Wright of College Park, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said. She made her first appearance in Clayton County Magistrate Court on Thursday.

The charge could be changed to murder if Wright dies, Turner said.

Around 7:22 p.m. Smith was stepping off the bus she had taken to work at Wayfield Foods grocery store on Riverdale Road near Riverdale when she saw a car in a parking lot across the street that had been stolen from her days earlier.

She confronted Wright and then fired at the car with a .38 caliber handgun as Wright began driving away, hitting Wright in the back of his head.

Smith had told police that Wright tried to run her down but Turner said that after investigating her story the detectives decided to charge her.

Listening intently as the judge asked if she would make the $16,000 bail on the charges, Smith looked back to her companion Shanda Burch-Smith, received a nod in the affirmative and then told the judge she did expect to make bail that evening.

Later Burch-Smith stood in front of the Harold R. Banke Justice Center in Jonesboro where the hearing took place and defended Smith. Burch-Smith said she and Smith both owned the car, a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am GT, and they had only recently purchased it.

"What (Wright) did was wrong. He should have gotten out of the car when he was approached," Burch-Smith said. "He tried to run her over."

Burch-Smith described Smith as a kind person who loved children and said she wasn't aiming at Wright but fired one round through the window of the car.

Doctors at Atlanta Medical Center operated on Wright Wednesday night and his family was at the hospital praying for him, said his Aunt Livia Moore Tolden of Atlanta. Tolden said the family had faith that he would survive.

"When the doctors came out and told us he wouldn't make it through the night, we knew better," Tolden said.

Tolden said she didn't know why her nephew was driving the stolen car, and she added that he had dropped somebody off shortly before the shooting.

"We don't believe anybody deserves this, especially over a material possession," Tolden said.

Eldrin Bell, a candidate for chairman of the Clayton County Commission, joined Tolden and other family members at the courthouse, comforting them as they waited for news on the outcome of the hearing. Victor Hill, candidate for Clayton County Sheriff, also greeted the family while they waited.