High School Cheerleader Fatally Shot at Prom After Party

  • 15-year-old Chyell Paulk was fatally shot during an after-prom party in the early hours of April 28
  • Three other people were injured, including a 14-year-old who is undergoing arm surgery and another minor who survived a gunshot wound to the face
  • A 17-year-old is accused in connection with the mass shooting, but they have not been publicly identified by authorities due to their age

The high school cheerleader had a fascination for fashion and hoped to pursue a career in radiology.

Instead, hours after prom, 15-year-old Chyell Paulk was fatally shot, Sunday, April 28, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which is looking into a prom after-party shooting where three other young people were injured .

“I’m just numb,” Paulk’s mother, Chelsie King, told WALB News 10. “She was 15 with a full life ahead of her.”

Chyell Paulk.

Chyell Paulk Facebook

A 17-year-old is charged in the mass shooting with one count of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, the GBI confirms, noting that the investigation remains “active and ongoing .”

The suspect is referred to as a minor in the GBI’s press release. However, teenagers as young as 13 can be charged as adults for serious crimes such as murder, according to the Interstate Commission for Juveniles, which tracks age requirements by state.

Police responded to reports of a shooting in the 300 block of East Pine Street in Fitzgerald, Ga., around 1:10 am Sunday, per the GBI. The four injured were rushed to the hospital.

At the hospital, Chyell — who was reportedly hit in her right side — was later pronounced dead, per the GBI.

A 19-year-old student and two minors were also injured in the shooting, per the GBI. The 19-year-old has since been released from the hospital, WALB News 10 reports.

The two minors were students, one of whom was shot in the face and released from the hospital Monday, April 29, the outlet reports. The other, a 14-year-old boy, is undergoing a surgery on his arm due to his injuries.

The GBI said the Fitzgerald Police Department asked the state agency to investigate the case overnight.

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On Monday, April 29, the City of Fitzgerald, Ga., issued a midnight curfew, stating that it was “unlawful for any minor under seventeen (17) years of age to loiter, wander, stroll or play in or upon the public streets , highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds or other public grounds, public places, public buildings, places of amusement, eating places, vacant lots or any place unsupervised by an adult having the legal authority to be at such places.”

The restriction is between the hours of midnight and 6 am, per the city ordinance.

The city did not say the after-prom shooting led to the new curve, but such after-parties would be limited under the ordinance, which specifies that minors “returning directly home from a school activity, entertainment, recreational activity or dance” are exempt .

The shooting came after at least two other prom after-party shootings in the southern United States. Earlier in April, an Arkansas teen was charged with the first-degree murder in connection with the death of 18-year-old Lorenzo Harrison III, on the night of his senior prom. Last year, another teenager allegedly fatally shot two teenagers and wounded four others at a prom afterparty in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

Irwin County High School Principal Jared Luke called Chyell’s death “extremely saddening and tragic” in a statement released to WALB News 10. “She had a loving spirit and always had a smile on her face,” he added, noting that additional counselors would be on campus to help students process the loss of the basketball cheerleading squad members.

The freshman honor roll student had “a very bright light,” her aunt, Linda King, told WALB.

“Chyell, your light is still shining,” she added. “And your aunt is going to do all she can to make sure that justice is served.”