McEachern running back Rajaan Bennett, Georgia’s Class AAAAA offensive player of the year, who had signed with Vanderbilt, was shot and killed early Thursday at his home in Powder Springs, the victim of an apparent murder-suicide.
According to reports, police got a 911 call at about 2:30 a.m., arrived within five minutes and heard gunshots as they approached the door.
Two people had been shot and killed inside. One was Bennett, 18, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The other was a 39-year-old identified as the former boyfriend of Bennett’s mother, Narjaketha Bennett.
Police said Narjaketha Bennett, 37, and her brother Taiwan Hunter, 32, ran out of the house after gunshots were fired.
"All of us at Vanderbilt are devastated by news of Rajaan’s death," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson told the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. "This is just so tragic to everybody that knew and loved Rajaan. Initially, our thoughts and prayers are with his mother Narjaketha and family members. I know he meant so much to them."
Bennett rushed rushed for 1,857 yards last season for McEachern, which finished 10-1 in a turnaround season.
"Rajaan is both humble and hard-working," McEachern head coach Kyle Hockman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's a guy that is very respected by his teammates and the McEachern community. I think the world of this young man."
Bennett was consistently ranked as one of the top 25 prospects in Georgia. He was an outstanding student with a 3.5 GPA. Bennett, who was 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, was the undisputed star at McEachern, which won its first region title in 10 years last season before losing to Brookwood 20-10 in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.
Blair Armstrong of Banks County coached Bennett in the Georgia high school all-star game in December and called him ''an outstanding character guy.''
"I had heard from his head coach, a friend of mine, that he was a great leader on the team, mentored other kids, and was always steering other players in the right direction and into making good decisions,'' Armstrong said. "I only got to work with him for three days and in that short period of time I saw his positive attitude, unselfishness — which is often unusual in a lot of premier running backs. I never heard him use profanity, and I was able to see him in a setting where others were doing it and he didn't. What a tragedy.''