East Brainerd Woman Dies As Shot From AR 15 Rifle Goes Through Bedroom Door, Into Her Face; Gilliland Charged

  • Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Cody Neal Gilliland
Cody Neal Gilliland

An East Brainerd woman has died after a bullet from an AR 15 rifle went through a bedroom door and into her face on Monday night.

The victim was Lauren Bonnema, 25, who was living with her boyfriend, 29-year-old Cody Neal Gilliland, at the Hidden Creek Apartments.

Gilliland was charged with criminally negligent homicide.

He told police he went into a bedroom to look at one of his rifles. He said a dog followed him into the bedroom and would not leave him alone. He said he became upset and began yelling and kicking at the dog. He said the gun went off at this time.

The incident happened shortly after 8 p.m.

Police found Ms. Bonnema on the floor with a gunshot wound to the face. She died after being transported to the hospital.

Officers found Gilliland still at the scene holding a baby.

He said at the time of the shooting the girlfriend was cooking dinner and her seven-month-old baby was playing in the living room.

Police found a bullet hole in the door of the master bedroom with blood spatter covering the area of the bullet hole. The AR 15 was soaked with blood.

Officers observed blood transfer on AR 15 magazines in the master bedroom closet.

The medical examiner said the entry wound was to the front of the victim's mouth.

Police said Gilliland's "gross negligent handling of the loaded rifle and his actions of anger towards his dog led to the death of Ms. Bonnema."

Ms. Bonnema was a lifelong resident of Chattanooga and a member of Brainerd Hills Baptist Church. She was serving in the Army Reserves and was an avid music and animal lover.



Lauren Bonnema
Lauren Bonnema
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