When a "play fight" between Tykiah Palmer's younger brother and another 15-year-old boy escalated Wednesday, the big sister stepped in to defend her sibling, an act that led to the girl's fatal shooting, relatives and Richmond County authorities said.
After an exchange of words, Tykiah slapped Loviet Nushawn Edwards, prompting him to draw a gun and shoot her in the chest, witnesses told investigators.
About 28 weeks pregnant, Tykiah, 16, was rushed to Medical College of Georgia, where she was pronounced dead at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. Doctors performed an emergency caesarian in an attempt to save her baby girl, but she was also pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.
Edwards, who turned himself in to authorities Wednesday, is facing two counts of murder and one count of possession of a firearm during commission of a crime. Police said they had not found the gun late Thursday.
The incident in the 2100 block of Ramblewood Drive was the second fatal shooting in the Pepperidge subdivision in a month. In both cases, students from Butler High School were the victims. Grief counselors were available at the school Thursday to meet with students, said Louis Svehla, Richmond County Schools spokesman.
Last month Brandon Desean Taylor, a 16-year-old Butler High School student, was shot and killed on Monte Carlo Drive, in an incident authorities think was gang-related.
Investigators do not think Tykiah's shooting was connected to that case or gang-related, Sgt. Ken Rogers said.
"This is a dumb thing that happened," he said.
The shooting seems to have happened in the blink of an eye, said Tykiah's grandmother, Mae Palmer.
Her granddaughter had known Edwards for at least six or seven years, she estimated, adding that her grandson and Edwards seemed to be good friends.
Palmer said Tykiah's instinct of protecting her brother was part of her nature.
"She was always overprotective of (her brother)," Palmer said. "She always thought she had to take care of him."
Tykiah had a big heart and wanted to be a pharmacist, her grandmother said. She said Tykiah was committed to raising her child and was still in a relationship with the baby's father at the time of the shooting.
"Everybody loved her. She was real lovable," Palmer said.
Tykiah made A's and B's in school, and though she struggled some at the beginning of her freshman year at Butler, her grades rebounded this year because of her determination, her grandmother said.
Edwards was a student last year at Butler but had been remanded to the school district's alternative school this year, Svehla said.
Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said he could not comment on whether Edwards had a juvenile record. Those records are sealed.
Before this year, the last homicide in Pepperidge subdivision was in July 2006 on the 2200 block of Ramblewood Drive, according to the sheriff's office's records.