Atlanta shooting latest: Suspect Raïssa Kengne appears in court as police probe why victims were targeted

Suspect in deadly Midtown Atlanta shooting speaks up after judge asks her to be silent during hearing

The woman accused of shooting three people and sending offices into lockdown in downtown Atlanta on Monday has been denied bail.

Raïssa Kengne, 34, appeared before a court on Tuesday afternoon accused of assaulting three people with a firearm and killing two of them, and was ordered to remain in detention.

The first attack took place at Ms Kengne’s luxury condo complex, with a second bout of gunfire erupting minutes later at an office building four blocks away.

Michael Shinners, 60, a building manager in Ms Kengne’s luxury condo complex, died at the scene, while Wesley Freeman, 41, who seems to have been a former colleague of Ms Kengne, died later in hospital.

While police are still probing the motive of the shooting, Ms Kengne appears to have made a series of LinkedIn posts and filed a lawsuit accusing Mr Freeman and her building managers of conspiring against her.

Officers said they believed the victims had been targeted specifically.

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‘Not enough evidence’

Raïssa Kengne’s lawsuit was in trouble. According to her complaint, she attempted to engage a law firm, but was rebuffed after “several months” and “many questions” because “they did not have enough evidence to pursue the case”.

She searched Georgia for other lawyers, and even flew to Washington, DC to meet with others (her tickets are included in her lawsuit as evidence), to no avail.

Instead she represented herself, and named her previous lawyers as defendants in the suit.

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Suspect was reportedly fighting foreclosure

Atlanta broadcaster 11 Alive has do a deep dive into Raïssa Kengne’s 407-page lawsuit, as well as other legal filings relating to her life.

Although a judge on Tuesday told Ms. Kengne that she does not qualify for a taxpayer-funded lawyer, she reportedly told a different court that she has less than $3,000 in savings and no income.

The report says Ms Kengne owns land, an abandoned house, and her condo in midtown Atlanta, but that she has been fighting to prevent the house being foreclosed upon and to get electricity turned back on at the condo.

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No court date set for Kengne’s next appearance

A court date has not yet been set for Raïssa Kengne’s next appearance before a judge, Fox 5 Atlanta reported on Tuesday.

The woman accused of killing two people and injuring one in a shooting spree in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday appeared briefly before a magistrate to hear the warrant against her and be denied bail.

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‘We will be deeply missed’

The accounting company where shooting victim Wesley Freeman worked has sent a bulletin to employees mourning his loss.

According to a screenshot posted by an employee on the anonymous social network Fishbowl, the message – first spotted by the accounting news website Going Concern – was signed by BDO USA chief executive Wayne Berson and HR boss Cathy Moy.

“As you may have seen in the news, there was an active shooter incident in downtown Atlanta, which included our BDO office,” they said. “We’re heartbroken to share that one of our employees, Wesley (Wes) Freeman, lost his life yesterday as a result of this incident.

“This is devastating and something we never could have imagined we would face as a firm… Wes, an IS assurance managing director, was an incredible team member who brought exceptional passion, dedication, and integrity to his work over the past 16 years at BDO. He will be deeply missed.”

It adds that the Atlanta office will be closed “until further notice”.

The message does not say anything about the shooting suspect Raïssa Kengne, who appears to have previously worked for BDO and had named Mr. Freeman as a defendant in a sprawling lawsuit in May.

So far, BDO has not responded to requests for comment from The Independent.

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Suspect’s LinkedIn page flooded with comments

Raïssa Kengne’s LinkedIn page has been flooded by online rubberneckers speculating about her alleged role in the shooting and sometimes voicing support for her.

Underneath a video by Ms Kengne about her dispute with her former employer and her building manager, posted two days ago, there are now 286 comments from apparent strangers.

Some people take her claims of a conspiracy against her seriously, suggesting dark forces at work behind the events in Atlanta and expressing support for her perspective.

Others sympathized with her claims that Atlanta police did not give her dispute due attention while lamenting the deaths. Others still argued that she was mentally ill, using words such as “paranoid” and “delusional”, while many more simply discussed her arrest with amazement and surprise.

To be clear, Ms Kengne is innocent of Monday’s shooting until proven guilty and we don’t know anything concrete about her mental state.

One unfortunate professional connection, who describes himself as a senior auditor on KPMG, posted around three weeks ago that “I knew from the first moment I met you that you were a BADASS. Go, Raissa!”

Since then, numerous strangers have responded pointing out that she has been arrested.

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Suspect had a long career as an IT auditor

Now that authorities have confirmed the suspect as Raïssa Kengne, let’s take a closer look at how she described herself on LinkedIn.

By all appearances, Ms Kengne has had a successful career. She graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Georgia State University’s J Mack Robinson College of Business, where she says she was the treasurer of the Delta Epsilon Iota fraternity, then got a master’s degree in IT systems auditing from the same institution in 2013.

Since then, she has worked at various companies as an IT auditor, assessing clients’ safeguards against cyberattacks and the risks of system failure.

She received endorsements on the social network for her skills in “auditing”, “financial analysis”, “financial reporting”, and others. One manager from one of her internships back in 2011 described him as “a valuable asset to our accounting team… her output was on par with the professionals on our staff.”

According to a post three weeks ago, Ms Kengne also gave a conference talk in Atlanta entitled “Fraud in Public Accounting”.

A screenshot from what appears to be Raïssa Kengne’s LinkedIn page

(Raïssa Kengne via LinkedIn)

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ICYMI: Two victims killed in attack identified

Michael Shinners, 60, and Wesley Freeman, 41, were identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday as the two victims killed in the shooting that afternoon, according to local news outlets.

Shinners was one of two people shot at an apartment on 1280 West Peachtree Street, while Freeman was shot at a different building less than a mile away, on 1100 Peachtree Street, Atlanta police said.

The first shooting took place in the management office at the condo building run by Beacon Management Services, where Shinners and the third victim, Mike Horne, were employees, according to CBS46.

Here’s what we know about them:

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‘Please remain silent, ma’am’

Here’s a video clip from Raïssa Kengne’s first appearance in court, showing her testy exchange with the judge.

Suspect in deadly Midtown Atlanta shooting speaks up after judge asks her to be silent during hearing

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Raïssa Kengne appears in court

Raïssa Kengne has been denied bail in her first appearance before a court in Atlanta.

Sitting before a video screen in a government building, wearing a face mask, Ms. Kengne listened as the warrant against her was read out, accusing her of assaulting Michael Shinners, Wesley Freeman, and Michael Horne with a firearm.

Ms Kengne repeatedly attempted to speak up and intervene in the proceedings but was told by the judge to be quiet. “Your honor, if I may intervene –” she said at one point. “Please remain silent, ma’am,” the judge responded.

Raïssa Kengne during her first court appearance on Tuesday 23 August 2022

(WSB-TV 2)

The judge then told Ms Kengne that she had enough assets or income that she did not qualify for a taxpayer-funded defense lawyer under Georgia law, and that she must immediately hire her own lawyer without “delay or stall[ing]”.

Ms Kengne attempted to protest, saying she had not had a chance to talk with her current lawyer about the facts of the case”, but was told that it would be sorted out at a later date.

The judge ordered that she remain in detention.

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Appeal reportedly filed by suspect in lawsuit

In a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy against her, Raïssa Kengne accused two of her victims and her former employer of “retaliation, persecution, harassment, intimidation, threats, burglary, computer hacking, phone spoofing, and other attacks”, according to a version seen by The Independent.

The case, which a judge reportedly dismissed, came after she allegedly highlighted a “significant deficiency” in an audit at her former accounting firm that was disregarded, WSB-TV reported.

She then accused her condo management company of allowing “unauthorized individuals” to enter her apartment in connection with the claims and lawsuit and according to WSB-TV, filed an appeal against the judge’s decision as recently as last week.

Lisa Simmons, the president of Beacon Management Services, told local news media on Tuesday that Ms Kengne was a “disgruntled” resident.

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