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$24K Raised For Info; Justice Demanded in Slaying of 32-Year-Old Woman

Cory Pettway, with the Jefferson County Millennial Democrats speaks during a press conference held at W.C. Patton Park in East Birmingham. Pettway is among those calling for justice in the shooting death of 32-year-old Areyelle M. Yarbrough that happened at the park on Sunday. (Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

Comedian and Birmingham native Rickey Smiley, the Birmingham Urban League and the Jefferson County Commission are among entities offering a total of more than $24,000 for information about a shooting at W.C. Patton Park on Easter Sunday that claimed the life of a 32-year-old bystander and hospitalized five others including a 5-year-old.

The 32-year-old woman was identified as Areyelle M. Yarbrough who was an innocent bystander at the park.

Smiley on Monday offered $5,000 and has since been followed by Jefferson County Commissioners ($8,500 total); Birmingham Urban League ($5,000) and Crime Stoppers ($5,000).

Smiley said on Monday he was saddened by not only the death of Yarbrough “but all of the other crime-filled incidents that have people afraid to leave their homes and stop at the gas station or whatever.”

“I want to work hand-in-hand with the mayor and Birmingham Police Department (BPD) and if anyone has any information concerning the death of this young lady, please contact Crime Stoppers (205-254-7777),” he said outside of City Hall.

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson said each commissioner gave to Crime Stoppers from their discretionary funds to help bring justice for Yarbrough, who was a county employee, and daughter of Pastor Michael Yarbrough, of Shady Grove Baptist Church in the Oxmoor community.

“We want the public to know that we are standing . . . with all of the people who are against this violence,” Tyson said Wednesday, “ . . . this young lady was trying to protect children and she was an employee of the county. This touches our hearts.”

The Birmingham Police Department responded to a shooting at Patton Park Sunday around 7 p.m. where there were reports of an altercation with a group of men that led to shots being fired.

According to authorities hundreds of people were gathered at the park. Five were injured in the shooting in ages 21, 17, 16, 15, and 5.

The 5-year-old, who has been identified as Justice Holness, was shot in the lungs and the bullet also fractured his collar bone. His left lung received the most damage but he was taken off a ventilator Tuesday and was responsive and talking. His mother said he is expected to make a full recovery. All of the victims are stable.

On Wednesday, Le’Darius Hilliard, president of the Jefferson County Millennial Democrats, joined other community leaders at Patton Park to call for justice.

“The murder of my friend Areyelle Yarbrough was reckless, senseless, and devastating. There were children hit with bullets in this park on Sunday,” he said. “Today, we’re asking people to come forward with information—if you saw something, say something. We’ve got to take charge of our own community and get people who are killing innocent people off our streets. I’ve spoken with leaders and law enforcement, and they have leads, but they can’t build a case without witnesses, and I know there are witnesses out there. Come forward and help us get justice.”

Others offering money in the shooting include the Carlos Chaverst Foundation ($500) and C4 Mentoring ($300).

Anyone with information is asked to call Birmingham police detectives at 205-254-1764 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.