By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
West Newton murder-suicide under investigation
Judge ordered suspect to stay away from mother of his child before all found shot to death; grandmother in serious condition after series of shootings
Darian Bennett

COVINGTON, Ga. — A judge had ordered the suspected assailant in a murder and suicide to stay away from the mother of his child before all three were found dead of gunshot wounds over the weekend, a deputy said.

Newton County sheriff's detectives continued their investigation Monday, June 13, into the murder of the mother and the shooting of the child's grandmother at their west Newton residence at the hands of suspect Darian Bennett of Decatur Saturday night, deputies said.

Bennett, 38, then shot and killed his baby daughter and himself in Clayton County the following morning, said Sgt. Jack Redlinger of the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

The child's grandmother, identified in a report as Peggy Ann Burns, 63, remained in critical condition with gunshot wounds Monday in an area hospital, deputies said.

Bennett, the father of 1-year-old Jaquari Bennett, had been charged April 4 with making harassing phone calls and terroristic threats and acts against the baby's mother, Keashawn Washington, 38, said Sgt. Jack Redlinger of the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

Warrants on the charges stated he threatened to kill Washington at her home at 95 Chandler Field Drive on July 19, 2021. 

Bennett was later released from the Newton County Detention Center on a total bond of $8,450.

"The condition of his bond was he was to stay away from her," Redlinger said.

On Saturday at 11:14 p.m., Newton County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a person being shot at 95 Chandler Field Drive. Responding deputies found Washington shot and killed and the grandmother of the child severely wounded.

"It was determined that the baby's father, Darian Bennett, had shot both of them and kidnapped the baby," Redlinger said.

The grandmother then told deputies before being transported that Bennett shot her and Washington, deputies said. 

State and county officials issued an Amber Alert for Jaquari that stated she had been taken by Bennett and was believed to be in "extreme danger," Redlinger said.

The following day around 7 a.m. Clayton County 911 received a call from Bennett in which he said he was going to kill the baby and himself but did not give their location, Redlinger said.

Riverdale police then used GPS to locate Bennett’s 2007 Honda Accord and found it abandoned outside Riverdale United Methodist Church at the corner of Church Street and Adams Drive. 

"Riverdale officers went to the scene, located the suspect's vehicle with its doors open in the parking lot of the church," he said. "As they were checking out the vehicle, they heard gunshots coming from behind the area of the church."

They subsequently found Bennett and the child shot to death, Redlinger said.

Redlinger said detectives had not determined how he got the gun used in the shootings or other details. 

Newton County Sheriff’s Office was still investigating, he said.