Two young adults allegedly shot by their mother, who then shot herself, were mourned by Atlanta’s mayor as “beautiful, vibrant and brilliant” while authorities continued to investigate what led to the deaths Wednesday after mother and daughter returned from a trip to Italy.
Siblings Chris Edwards, 24, and Erin Edwards, 20, along with their mother, Marsha Edwards, were part of a family prominent in metro Atlanta’s medical and civic circles.
Both Chris and Erin had worked for the city of Atlanta. Chris Edwards was employed as a digital content manager in the mayor’s Office of Entertainment. His sister was a Boston University student and previously interned in the mayor’s Office of Communications, reports Atlanta TV station WSB.
Their father, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Christopher Edwards, is the current chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority, according to the agency’s website, which also says he’s a trustee of the Morehouse School of Medicine, a former president of the Georgia Physicians Association, a former vice president of the Grady Hospital board of trustees and a former health committee chairman for the United Way of Greater Atlanta.
The parents were divorced, according to a statement from the father’s spokesman obtained by WXIA.
“Derek and I join the greater Atlanta community in mourning the loss of three members of the beloved Edwards family,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement released after the bodies were discovered around 6 p.m. Wednesday inside a Cobb County townhome.
“Chris and Erin were beautiful, vibrant, and brilliant young adults, whom we had the pleasure of knowing their entire lives,” she said. “They filled the lives of all who met them with joy, compassion, and kindness. May the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, be with the Edwards family and all who had the honor to have known them.”
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Police allege in a statement that Marsha Edwards died of “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound” after killing her two kids — but still have no idea why.
On the day of the murders, Marsha Edwards appeared to be in good spirits on social media, posting on Instagram earlier Wednesday, “I’ve had the best summer, first with Chris in Miami, and Erin in Italy. I could not ask for better children.”
She had joined her son at a Florida gathering of the National Association of Black Journalists, according to social media posts, and then uploaded a series of photos that appeared to show her traveling with her daughter in Venice and Florence, reports WXIA.
Erin previously had spent part of her summer in New York City as an intern in the digital department of WNBC.
The president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Dorothy M. Tucker, wrote on Twitter: “The #NABJ family has lost three of our own. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Marsha Edwards, Christopher Edwards II and Erin Edwards. This tragedy has claimed the lives of three members, but touches countless more.”
Chris was an alumnus of Elon University in North Carolina. In a statement to PEOPLE, friend Jared Kimble, who attended Elon with Chris, described him as “the most down-to-earth guy” who was “always positive and could light up the room when he walked into it. I think the outpouring of love and admiration for Chris the past day just shows how much of a positive impact he had on people that knew him.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.