By Gabrielle Chung
Tyler Perry will pay for the funeral expenses of Secoriea Turner, an 8-year-old girl who was fatally struck by gunfire on Saturday not far from the scene in Atlanta where police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks three weeks ago, PEOPLE has exclusively learned.
Photo: © Kevin Winter/Getty; Tyler Perry, Secoriea Turner
“Who said that outrage has to choose a side?” the famously charitable filmmaker tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. “When so many Black people like George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks were killed I was outraged and did what I could to help their families. When a white police officer was shot in the head trying to stop a shoplifter in a suburb outside of Atlanta I was outraged and I did what I could to help him and his family.”
Perry had previously paid for the medical expenses for Matt Cooper, a Georgia officer who was trying to stop a shoplifter at a Walmart in Covington, GA, in September 2018 when he was shot in the head. Cooper has since recovered and returned to work in May.
“And when we are killing each other, including our innocent children, I am outraged,” Perry adds. “It doesn’t matter what color wrong comes in, wrong is wrong.”
Perry continues, “I’m outraged today because I’d rather be paying for 8-year-old Secoriea Turner’s college than her funeral. When does this end?”
Turner was riding in her mother’s car on the Fourth of July when shots were fired into the vehicle, according to Atlanta Police. The incident occurred when the family exited off a local highway onto University Avenue and tried turning around in a parking lot.
Turner’s mother told police that was when a “group of armed individuals” blocked her from leaving the parking lot.
At some point, someone opened fire on the car, hitting it several times.
The girl’s mother drove to the hospital, where Turner was pronounced dead.
“An 8-year-old girl was killed last night because her mother was riding down the street,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms during a press conference Sunday. “If Secoriea was not safe last night, none of us are safe.”
“You shot and killed a baby,” Bottoms continued, directly addressing the group of suspects. “And there wasn’t just one shooter, there were at least two shooters.”
Bottoms also said that there have been armed protestors at the site of the torched Wendy’s restaurant outside of which Brooks, 27, was shot last month.
In a video posted to YouTube, a representative for the protestors who’ve taken control of the site said they had no involvement whatsoever in Saturday’s fatal shooting.
Brooks was shot by police at the Wendy’s parking lot on June 12 and died from his injuries after undergoing surgery.
Police received a complaint that a man, later identified as Brooks, was asleep parked in the drive-thru. After he resisted arrest, the officer deployed a Taser and a struggle ensued, resulting in Brooks being shot.
In the wake of Brooks’ death, the officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, was fired from his post and charged with felony murder, several counts of aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and seven violations of oath of office. Another officer involved in the incident, Devin Brosnan, was charged with aggravated assault and two violations of oath of office.
In June, PEOPLE confirmed that Perry offered to pay for Brooks’ funeral expenses, as well as the college educations for his four surviving children.
A source told PEOPLE at the time that the mogul “spoke to Rayshard’s family and wanted to do something to help.”
“His heart goes out to the family during this tragic time,” added the source.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.