August 20, 2014 10:51:28 AM
A lover's quarrel led to a woman being gunned down in a Columbus parking lot early Sunday, according to the shooting suspect's family.
Tarkesha Carter, 25, is charged in the shooting death of 27-year-old Brittany Foster. The incident happened around 1 a.m. in the Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot on Highway 45 North. Foster was employed by Buffalo Wild Wings.
Columbus Police Department investigators say Carter, after shooting Foster, went inside the restaurant asking for another female employee. When the employee -- who has not been identified publicly by authorities -- appeared, she ran out of the back of the restaurant with Carter in pursuit, according to investigators.
Once outside, Carter fired three shots at the woman but did not hit her, according to police. Carter then walked around the restaurant to the front, where she was taken into custody.
In addition to a murder charge, she faces another charge of aggravated assault for firing at the unidentified woman.
Investigators have said the three women knew each other.
While police have not released a motive for the shootings, Carter's mother, Kimberly Jones, told The Dispatch in an interview Tuesday that the three women were involved in a love triangle.
According to Jones, Carter and the unidentified woman had been in a long-term relationship. She was not sure of their status at the time of the shooting. Carter's uncle, however, told The Dispatch the two women were still romantically involved.
The Dispatch contacted the unidentified woman Tuesday. She denied being romantically involved with Carter.
The woman, who asked that she not be identified because of the sensitive nature of the incident, said she was living with Foster at the time of Foster's death. She described the shooting as an act of "jealousy."
"She was jealous of me and Brittany's friendship," the woman said.
Kenny Chandler is Carter's uncle. He told The Dispatch that he and Carter were at Buffalo Wild Wings from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. During that time, Carter gave the unidentified woman an undisclosed amount of money. (The unidentified woman told The Dispatch no money was exchanged.)
Chandler said he and his niece then left the restaurant but returned about 8:30 p.m. and sat at the bar. Chandler said they asked specifically for the unidentified woman and were told the woman had left with Foster. At that point, Carter and Chandler left the restaurant, according to Chandler.
Carter then became upset and decided she wanted to retrieve the money she had given the woman, according to Chandler. They eventually returned to the restaurant and parked across Highway 45 North.
Chandler claims to have witnessed the shooting. He told The Dispatch that Carter, while walking through the parking lot toward the restaurant, came across Foster, who was walking toward her car. Carter confronted Foster about the money she had given the unidentified woman. Foster denied having it, according to Chandler.
Chandler claims Foster then opened her car door, reached under the console and brandished a firearm. Carter then pulled a gun of her own, according to Chandler.
Authorities have verified two firearms were recovered from the scene.
"At this time...they swingin' the pistols and I'm scared," Chandler said.
Chandler said that after shots rang out, he fled. He said he does not know who shot first. Chandler said he did not know Carter had a gun.
Carter, according to her mother, was a Caledonia High School graduate who worked at the Toyota plant in Blue Springs. She described her as witty, spirited, outgoing and as a person who "kept people laughing."
"To know her, she was an outgoing person," her mother said. "She wasn't a violent person. She's not a violent person, she's lovable...Yes, I'm her mother but I'm speaking as somebody else right now, as a friend."
Carter remains in the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center on a $600,000 bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 20.
"As local owners of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Columbus and members of the community, we are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that took the life of Brittany Foster, who was a member of our team," Jeff Ousley, director of operations for the restaurant, said in a statement. "We extend our thoughts and prayers to her family, our team members and to all who are directly impacted by this tragedy. We are working closely with law enforcement officials regarding this matter."
"Because this is an active police investigation, we have no further comment at this time," Ousley said.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
1. Ex-employee threatens shooting at Zaxby's COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. In his DNA: Shepherd plays key role in cold case arrest COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Volunteers host local arts bazaar in Starkville Sunday STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
4. Oktibbeha County's chancery candidates preparing for nonpartisan race STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. Gavin: Poor schools stunt city's growth COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY