May Araim had lived in the United States for years, after escaping her native Iraq. She always dreamed of becoming a full-fledged U.S. citizen, and less than two weeks ago she fulfilled that dream, taking her oath of citizenship at age 68, in her adopted hometown of Houston, Texas.
But Saturday night, May Araim was dead, shot in the abdomen by a gun carried into a nearby bar and restaurant by Glenn Lampien. Under Georgia's new open carry gun law, known as "Guns Everywhere," it is now legal to bring a gun into a drinking establishment in Georgia.
But somehow, Lampien's gun went off. The bullet first wounded Lampien in the hand, but kept going into the street where it struck May Araim as she walked with a group of female friends. She collapsed and bled to death at the scene.
Lampien, 53, of Jasper, Georgia, will be charged with involuntary manslaughter, police say — a charge indicating that the police believe the shooting to be accidental.
But police in Helen are not saying much more than that. They are remaining tight-lipped about the investigation and even took down a Facebook post about the shooting Sunday.
The town of Helen is a resort town in northern Georgia in which many local businesses are styled to represent Bavarian themes. The shooting happened outside a beer-garden style restaurant and bar, the Old Heidelberg, at 8660 North Main Street in Helen, at about 10:40 pm. But employees at the establishment refused to speak to local media about the tragedy.
When police responded to a report of shots fired at that location, in addition to finding Araim dead, they also found Lampien sitting on a bench, nursing a bleeding hand with what was identified as a gunshot wound.
"It was determined that the male had accidentally discharged the weapon into his hand, the bullet then traveled across Main Street, striking the female victim," was about all police said about the incident.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution spoke to Lampien's wife, Valerie Lampien, who told the paper she had no idea what happened, but called the shooting "an unfortunate situation."
"Maybe the shooting was accidental," said Omar Araim, a nephew of the shooting victim, in another Atlanta Journal Constitution interview. "But what was the guy doing drawing a gun in the middle of a crowd?"
He said that May Araim and her friends were wearing hijab, the traditional Muslim attire for women. Police have not said whether Lampien noticed the women before his gun went off.
Georgia's new open carry "Guns Everywhere" law took effect last month.