A University of West Georgia professor fatally shot one of his own school’s students in a parking lot in the early hours of Saturday, Carrollton Police said.
Richard Sigman, 47, is now facing a murder charge over the death of 18-year-old Anna Jones.
According to police in Carrollton, a college town located about 50 miles west of Atlanta, Sigman threatened to whip out his gun during a verbal fight with another man in the parking lot of a pizza joint at 12:30 am Saturday.
The man alerted a security guard and when the guard saw that Sigman was indeed armed, police say they asked him to leave. But Sigman walked away and began to shoot into a vehicle parked in the lot near Adamson Square, a busy nighttime district in downtown Carrollton.
One of the bullets hit Jones, though it’s unclear if she was the intended target or if she knew Sigman. Her friends of her drove her to a hospital where she was pronounced dead, police said.
In a GoFundMe organized to cover funeral expenses, Jones was described as “a beautiful, sweet soul” whose “smile would light up a room.”
“This was a devastating and senseless crime that left a lot of hearts broken, a community mourning, and a family grieving,” the fundraiser said.
Relatives and friends also took to social media to express their grief and shock, with one friend writing that “to know Anna was to love Anna.” Stephanie Hodges, one of Jones’ former teachers, wrote that the 18-year-old freshman was planning on becoming a teacher herself, having had a natural knack for working with children.
Another friend, Emma Phillips, described Jones as “endlessly kind, selfless, extremely loving, hilarious, and overall the life of every party. She was simply full of life and love. She had such a love for her family, friends, and her home de ella mount zion. ”
“I remember multiple times her buying me clothes, dinner, and even paying for me to get my nails done because I had no money and she wanted me to feel included,” Phillips wrote. “That’s exactly how she was… Anything I needed, she was there to give it. I wish I could be half as selfless as she was.”
A relative told The Daily Beast on Sunday afternoon that the family is not yet ready to speak publicly about Jones’ death.
Zoie Whitestone, who was one of Sigman’s students last semester, told The Daily Beast Sigman taught upperclassmen management courses.
“Many of us had him a few months ago and never would’ve suspected this,” she said.
The University has since fired Sigman. “On behalf of the university, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to Anna’s family and many friends,” UWG President Dr. Brendan Kelly said in the statement. “We know this news is difficult to process and affects many members of our university community. We ask that you keep Anna’s family, friends, and all who have been touched by this tragedy in your thoughts during this tremendously difficult time.”