A man from Taylorsville has been charged with second-degree murder after allegedly shooting a teenage girl in Laurel, resulting in her death and the birth of her baby. The suspect, Tavaris Atwood, appeared in court where his bond was set at $1 million. The incident occurred during an argument at a residence, and the victim was found with a gunshot wound to the head. The baby is reportedly in good condition and in state custody. Child Protective Services is involved in the case. The suspect admitted to the shooting in a video interview. Laurel Leader-Call reported
A man from Taylorsville, along with a newborn baby, is currently under the care of state authorities, while the teenage mother of the baby has tragically passed away following a shooting incident in a Laurel residence on Monday night. Tavaris Atwood, an 18-year-old who has been charged with second-degree murder, appeared in Laurel Municipal Court on Wednesday morning, accompanied by his mother. Judge Kyle Robertson set Atwood’s bail at $1 million.
During the incident, Atwood allegedly shot 16-year-old Alisha McLemore in the head following an argument at the residence. Police reports and an affidavit confirm this. The authorities were called to the scene on North 2nd Avenue in Laurel after 9:30 p.m. McLemore, who was 29 weeks pregnant, was found with a gunshot wound to her head. She was rushed to South Central Regional Medical Center by EMServ Ambulance, where her baby was delivered. The baby was then airlifted to University Medical Center in Jackson and is reported to be in good condition. Child Protective Services were contacted to provide assistance. Sadly, McLemore was later pronounced dead at UMC, according to Jones County Coroner Burl Hall.
Atwood was identified as the suspect and was apprehended by Smith County deputies near Taylorsville at around 3 a.m. on Tuesday. Laurel Police Department personnel transported him to the jail in Jones County. According to the affidavit read during Atwood’s court appearance, a witness reported hearing an argument between Atwood and McLemore, followed by a gunshot. When the witness went to investigate, they saw Atwood holding a gun and McLemore slumped against a wall. Atwood initially denied seeing a gun but was advised by his public defender, Matt Sherman, to exercise his right to remain silent.
During the hearing, Atwood’s mother informed the judge that they plan to hire their own attorney. LPD Investigator Mitch Blakeney stated that Atwood admitted to the shooting during a video-recorded interview. The judge emphasized that Atwood must have no contact with the victim’s family.
It remains unclear whether Atwood and McLemore were in a relationship or who the father of the baby is. When asked by a reporter if the baby was his, Atwood’s response appeared to suggest it was someone else’s. He also used inappropriate language towards the reporter. A Laurel police officer standing nearby refused to clarify what Atwood said. A video of the incident is accessible at www.leader-call.com.
LPD Chief Tommy Cox expressed gratitude to the Smith County Sheriff’s Department, Child Protective Services, and the Jones County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the case. Cox described the incident as particularly devastating due to the young age of the victim, the offender, and the involvement of a baby. He emphasized that this was an extremely tragic situation that no one ever wants to witness.
Anyone with information about this incident or any other criminal activity in the city is urged to contact the LPD at 601-399-4440 or Crime Stoppers at 601-428-STOP (7867)..