Port Arthur woman’s fatal shooting sparks citywide balloon release; see the details

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Following the May 23 shooting death of a Port Arthur woman, a group of residents turned a planned memorial into a prayer vigil spanning across the city.

Shanderey Aitkens, who belongs to a Port Arthur activism group, said the idea to release balloons at four locations came after the death of Arneshoia Carter.

According to a probable cause affidavit released after her death, Carter was attempting to break up a fight and disarm one of the men involved at Louis Manor Apartments when she was shot in the neck.

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Carter, 31, was taken to a nearby hospital but removed from life support three days later.

Lawrence Edwards, 35, was arrested June 6 and charged with manslaughter. His bond was set at $100,000. As of Monday afternoon, he was no longer in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.

Aitkens said she didn’t know Carter well, but was saddened by the woman’s death.

“I moved here from Louisiana after Hurricane Ida and it took me a couple of months to get situated where I was really able to mingle with people,” said Aitkens, who lives at Louis Manor Apartments. “I didn’t know her personally, but it was such a tragedy.”

Aitkens said working to better then town in which she lives has been a part of her life, regardless of where it is.

“I’ve always been a community activist because I’ve always been on the rough side of the hill — poverty, domestic violence,” she said. “I can recognize when other people are going through it. It’s my way to reach out however I can, mostly with children.”

Currently Aitkens works with the children at Louis Manor, particularly through the summer food program. The idea to have a vigil for Carter first originated through her and the complex staff.

However, when brought before the activism group for which she belongs, it turned into a balloon release at four locations: The Pavillion, Gillam Circle, Memorial High School and Louis Manor.

All four will take place July 30 at 6 p.m.

“There are a lot of people who have lost loved ones to gun violence, so we decided to make it a community thing,” she said.

Organizers are asking participants to tie inspirational messages to the balloons before they’re released.

“Someone hurting inside might be walking down the street and they see this tag on the ground that makes their day better,” she said.