McEachern High School Football Star / Vanderbilt Recruit Killed


VIA: AJC.com

A McEachern High School football standout was killed early Thursday in an apparent murder-suicide at his family’s Powder Springs home.

The incident happened overnight on Woodcrest Drive, in a neighborhood off Brownsville Road just southwest of downtown Powder Springs.

Police identified the deceased as Rajaan Bennett, who earlier this month signed to play football in the  fall at Vanderbilt University, and Clifton O’Neal Steger, a former boyfriend of Bennett’s mother and the suspected shooter, police say.  Rajaan’s uncle, Taiwan Hunter, 32, is out of surgery  at Atlanta Medical Center and listed in critical condition.

Steger, 39, died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, said Powder Springs Police spokesman Matt Boyd.

“I’m standing here in a daze,” Steger’s mother, Gladys Steger, told the AJC when reached by phone at her home in Milledgeville. She referred all questions to her niece, who would not give her name.

“He was dating someone in Atlanta,” the relative said. “We met her once.”

The suspect’s cousin would not say whether that woman was Narjaketha Bennett, mother of Rajaan.

Steger, who grew up in Detroit, worked as a carpenter, his cousin said. “There’s nothing much I can say about him,” she said.

Police were called to the Bennett’s home around 2:30 a.m. Thursday after a caller to 911 whispered they needed help.

Officers arrived about four minutes later, and “as they approached and knocked on the door, they heard several gunshots,” Powder Springs Police Maj. Charles Spann told the AJC.

Immediately after the four or five shots were fired, Narjaketha Bennett, 37, and Hunter ran from the house,  police said.

The uncle had been struck by at least one gunshot, Boyd said. Shortly thereafter, two juveniles emerged from the home uninjured.

The Cobb County police SWAT team was called to the scene, and when officers entered the home, they found the bodies of Steger and 18-year-old Rajaan Bennett.

Bennett  was a senior running back and captain of McEachern’s 2009 football team, rushing for 1,857 yards and 28 touchdowns on 236 carries as a senior.

He was an all-state running back in Class AAAAA and was number 25 on the AJC’s “Fab 50″ list of recruits published earlier this month. He also earned three letters in track.

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