College student, Army reservist shot to death during robbery attempt

He could have attended college. Or, he could have enlisted in the military.

Instead, Xavier Arnold did both. After graduating from Chamblee High School in 2010, “X” enrolled in the Savannah College of Art and Design and enlisted in the Army Reserves.

“He was striving,” Rodney Reid, a family friend, said Friday night. “He was trying to find his way. He was a person that really loved life.”

Thursday night, Arnold, his girlfriend and another friend were on a bike trail in the Kirkwood community when shots were fired during a robbery attempt, Atlanta police said. The trio had planned to take pictures of graffiti on the trail when they were approached by two men, according to police.

The suspects shot Arnold in the head and his friend in the leg as Arnold’s girlfriend watched, police said. Both men were transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, but Arnold did not survive his injuries.

“It’s just devastating,” Reid told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You see these stories on the news or read them in the paper, and they touch your heart. But you have not an inkling of a clue until it hits your family or a friend.”

Reid said “X” had no money in his wallet and a cellphone that didn’t work, making his sudden death even harder for his family to accept. Arnold had recently moved home from Savannah, where he was attending school, and planned to attend classes at the Atlanta campus, Reid said. Recently, Arnold had gotten a job at a bar in the Kirkwood area, and his mother worried about him working late hours.

“Mom, just chill out. I’m gonna be okay,” Arnold said, according to Reid.

A talented artist, Arnold had the ability to look at something and draw it, and often amazed his family with his creativity. But in the reserves, he worked as an engineer, Reid said. Arnold’s interests were diverse and he was proud of his own accomplishments.

Late Friday, his family was planning his funeral while residents of the Kirkwood community rallied to fight violence in their neighborhood.

“My family was on the trail just a couple of hours before that, and it’s a common trail that we walk down and bike down,” Patrick Peyer told Channel 2 Action News. “We should not have to live in fear.”

Many homes displayed “X” signs, both to honor Xavier and to announce the community wants the violence to stop.

“We’ve got to come together as a whole and ex-out this nonsense,” Reid said.

Police were following leads in the case and asked for the public’s help in the case. Late Friday, Crime Stoppers Atlanta announced a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Anonymous tips can be phoned in to 404-577-8477 or submitted online at crimestoppersatlanta.com.

“They’re going to get caught, and when they do, their lives are gonna be over,” Reid said.

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