AUSTELL, Ga. – A man who fled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina fatally shot his girlfriend and himself in their home, leaving her 4-year-old son with a gunshot to the face and the couple's infant daughter wailing in an upstairs bedroom.
Police entered the couple's rented home in the Atlanta suburb of Austell early Wednesday after a call from a relative in New Orleans.
The woman "said that her nephew had called her and stated that he had an argument with his wife and that she was hurt pretty bad, and in fact she was dead," Police Chief Bob Starrett said.
Authorities said they found Rachel Harris, 23, dead of gunshot wounds in the living room, and her son, who had been shot in the face, strapped in a nearby high chair and bleeding.
A SWAT team found Jerome Spears, 28, in a back bedroom, dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot, Starrett said.
He left no note, police Lt. Gordon Firth said.
The boy, who is autistic, was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of an Atlanta hospital after undergoing surgery.
Officers followed the sound of crying to find the couple's 5-month-old daughter unharmed in an upstairs bedroom. A .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol was recovered from the scene.
Both children were to be turned over to the Department of Family and Children's Services.
Firth said the unmarried and unemployed couple had lived in the house for about two months and police had no record of prior calls to that address. A string of Christmas lights still decorated the front porch Wednesday morning.
"The tragic thing is this 4-year-old boy most likely saw his mother killed and was (injured) and tied up right there where his mother was lying in a pool of blood," Starrett said. "It's as bad as it could get."
Although police would not discuss Spears' background, research by The Associated Press matched his birthdate to that of Jerome "Slim Rome" Spears of New Orleans, an independent rap producer and CEO of On Top Enterprise Management and Production.
His flashy Web site contains photos of several rap and hip-hop artists he managed with such names as GunSlanga, Tru Thug and Menace — many of them posing with their hands cocked like pistols.
Firth viewed the photos from the Web site and said the shooter and "Slim Rome" "appear to be the same person."
Spears' friend Andy Koch, who designed the Web site, worked with Spears as a tow truck dispatcher until the Aug. 29 hurricane.
He said Spears was trying to tone down his company's "gangsta" image at the request of a record executive.
"That's not really how he is," Koch said. "He's just like your regular young guy. It's all just a show — I hope."
Phone messages left with relatives of Spears and Harris in New Orleans were not returned.