Georgia man who shot ex, kids had fought over child custody

Georgia man who shot ex, kids had fought over child custody

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DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Cedric Prather Jr.'s three children were his whole life and when he lost his job as a truck driver recently, the pressure over supporting them may have led him to snap and kill four people, his sister said Monday.

The shooting rampage happened just after 3 p.m. Saturday. Prather, 33, parked about a quarter mile away and walked inside the suburban Atlanta home of his ex-wife, Latoya A. Andrews, police said.

Prather gunned down Andrews and her boyfriend, Joseph Terry Brown, and killed two of his own children, including one who begged him not to pull the trigger, police said. He also shot two other children, leaving them critically injured. He then killed himself in the street.

"His children were his life," Prather's sister Jerdonna Sawyer told The Associated Press by phone. "He wasn't crazy at all. He just chose a terrible way to deal with his pressure and his stress."

Prather left no note explaining his actions, Douglas County sheriff's Capt. Bruce Ferguson said.

"I can't tell you why he did it," Ferguson said. "All I can do is to say he snapped or he had enough is what we've concluded in our investigation."

Prather left the military when Andrews was pregnant with their first child to be with her and help support the family. He moved about a dozen miles down the road to Douglasville from Villa Rica to be closer to his children after he and Andrews divorced and she moved, even though it meant moving farther from his close-knit family, Sawyer said.

He felt enormous stress from trying to be a provider and a parent, and that was exacerbated recently when he lost his job as a truck driver because his driver's license was suspended, Sawyer said.

Court records show Prather and Andrews divorced in 2006, and Sawyer said the two had gone back and forth over their children since then. Andrews got a protective order against him a year and a half ago, court records show.

Prather killed his 7-year-old daughter, London, and 9-year-old son, Jeremiah. He also critically wounded Andrews' 15-year-old daughter, Demeshia Owens, and Brown's 7-year-old daughter, Jada Brown.

Prather's oldest child, a 13-year-old boy, was not home at the time.

Andrews had asked judge for a temporary protective order in August 2013. At one point, she wrote, Prather forced his way inside her locked home when she was there alone. He also pinned her down on the stairs and sexually assaulted her, she wrote in a court filing.

The court documents didn't indicate whether criminal charges were ever sought, and there is no record of charges.

The judge ordered Prather to stay away from Andrews and her home. Meetings for him to pick up and drop off the children were to take place in the Douglasville Police Department parking lot, according to the order, which expired Oct. 9.

In December 2013, state officials said in a court filing that Prather owed $31,800 in past-due child support. He and Andrews eventually reached a custody agreement last May that allowed the children to spend about half their time with their father.

A few months later, the court issued a final order for him to pay $437 a month in child support and pay a past-due sum to be determined.

Police said the pair also fought about taxes but could not provide any more details about that.

Prather used a .45-caliber handgun to shoot all the victims and himself, and stopped at least once to reload. The sheriff's office is working with federal authorities to see if he bought the gun legally.

Prather's family is feeling deep grief and is also heartbroken for the families of Andrews and Brown, Sawyer said.

"We're all hurting," she said. "We've all had a great loss."

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