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Birmingham man arrested in Georgia in Easter 2021 Patton Park shooting that killed 1, injured 5

A 22-year-old Birmingham man has been charged in the 2021 Easter Sunday shooting at W.C. Patton Park that killed Areyelle Yarbrough and injured five others.

Jalynd Rashad Rayford, 22, was taken into custody in Georgia this morning, Birmingham police announced at a Thursday press conference attended by officials from the FBI, ATF and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Rayford is charged with murder in the shooting death of Areyelle Yarbrough, 32.

The arrest was made by the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and Georgia state police SWAT.

Rayford was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail at 7:25 a.m. and remains held pending extradition to Alabama.

Court records show Rayford is also charged with an unrelated robbery of a woman that took place several weeks after the park shooting.

The other five surviving victims were ages 5 to 21 at the time of the shooting.

The 5-year-old, Justice Holness, was shot in the lungs and the bullet also and fractured his collar bone.

The gunfire erupted just after 7 p.m. that Sunday, April 4, 2021, while hundreds, if not more, were gathered celebrating the holiday.

Officers arrived to find Yarbrough laying on the ground just outside the passenger door of her vehicle wounded by gunfire.

She was pronounced dead outside vehicle, and those with her said she was trying to protect some of the children who were with her.

A witness said two women were sitting on top of a blue Dodge Charger when someone opened fire, striking the Charger and the two women.

The witness said one of those women was shot in the chest; the witness said the other was Yarbrough.

Multiple people then started shooting.

“They didn’t even know what they were shooting at,” she said, estimating about 100 shots were fired.

Yarbrough was a graduate of Alabama A&M University graduate and currently working on her MBA.

She was a manager over 12 employees at the Jefferson County Department of Revenue where she headed principal accounting for business and sale tax licensing.

The FBI and Birmingham police on April 10, 2023, announced a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Thurmond has previously said investigators believe members the Birmingham street gang – H2K or Hard to Kill – were behind the dozens of bullets fired in the park that day.

“H2K became very prevalent with the Patton Park shooting,’’ Thurmond said in a previous AL.com interview.

H2K has since been the target of Birmingham, county, state and federal investigations. Some leaders and members have been jailed on other charges.

The chief had previously said he hoped the passing of time would change the minds of those who know what happened that night.

“We hope that some of the people involved could possibly be in jail or things have changes in the past two years that would make somebody more akin to coming forward and giving information,’’ Thurmond said previously.

“People are potentially scared of retaliation if they come forward, but the thing is, there are killers on our streets that still remain. Until people come forward, that narrative isn’t going to change.”

This story will be updated once the press conference concludes.

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