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Worker slain at Glennville prison was Statesboro resident
GDC spokesperson: Inmate had 'personal relationship' with woman
Aureon Shavea Grace
Aureon Shavea Grace

GLENNVILLE — An inmate who shot and killed a kitchen worker at Smith State Prison before fatally shooting himself had a personal relationship with the woman, a prison official said Monday.

Georgia Department of Corrections spokesperson Lori Benoit said in an email statement the shooting early Sunday at Smith State Prison was an isolated incident and the investigation was ongoing. The statement did not say how inmate Jaydrekus Hart obtained a firearm to shoot 24-year-old Aureon Shavea Grace of Statesboro.

Grace had worked at the prison since January, according to the corrections department. She was employed by Aramark, a Philadelphia-based company that provides food service for prisons in Georgia, among other states.

"We are heartbroken over the loss of our colleague and our hearts and prayers go out to her family," Aramark spokesperson Debbie Albert said in an emailed statement. "This is a tragedy for all of us."

The Department of Corrections previously said Hart shot the worker in the prison's kitchen at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, then killed himself. Hart appears to have left a suicide note, Benoit said.

Smith State Prison, which has capacity for 1,500 inmates, is a close-security prison that houses offenders considered violent or an escape risk.

"The weapon is in GDC custody at this time, and a complete and thorough investigation of what led up to this tragic incident will be carried out," part of a statement from the Department of Corrections said.

Hart had been imprisoned since 2015 after being convicted in Carroll County of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery, according to online prison records. His earliest potential release date would have been in 2043.

It's the second killing of a staff member at Smith State Prison in less than a year. Correctional officer Robert Clark, 42, died last October after an inmate he was escorting attacked him from behind with a homemade weapon.

A state investigation into a sprawling contraband scheme inside the prison resulted in the arrest and firing of the prison's warden, Brian Adams, in February 2023. He was charged with racketeering, bribery, making or writing false statements and violating his oath as a public officer.

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