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'Heartbroken' | 18-year-old killed outside Gwinnett mall was star high school football player, coach says

The team said they are "heartbroken" over the loss of Elijah DeWitt.

JEFFERSON, Ga. — The Jefferson community is mourning the loss of a student-athlete who was found shot and killed Wednesday night in Gwinnett County. 

DeWitt was found dead in the parking lot of Sugarloaf Mills Mall near the Dave & Buster's in Lawrenceville.

Authorities said a 19-year-old Chandler Zion Richardson was taken into custody in South Carolina Thursday in connection to DeWitt's shooting death.

DeWitt was a senior star wide receiver on the football team at Jefferson High School. Tributes and prayers are starting to pour in on social media. 

"The Jefferson High School Football program is heartbroken as we mourn the loss of one of our own, Elijah DeWitt," the football team posted on social media. "The DeWitt family is in our thoughts and prayers. We appreciate your understanding as we respect the family’s privacy during this time."

Jefferson High's head football coach Travis Noland said not only was he a great person, but also a tremendous athlete. 

"It's devastating. One of his best friends is our quarterback and that's who called me to tell me, crying. It's just one of those things that you don't wanna ever have to live through again," he said.

He called it a senseless shooting and hopes the person responsible will be held accountable.  

"We're just trying to find our way through it," Noland said. "We don't have any answers."

The coach, along with other administrators and pastors met with the team Thursday morning to hug, cry and pray with one another. 

"They're really emotional. They're really hurting. We'll try to help them any way we can," he said.

He said he's going to visit with the family this afternoon. 

Noland said the wide receiver had a bright future. 

DeWitt's Twitter page is filled with highlight videos and re-tweets from top football recruit blogs and websites. 

Coming into the game on Sept. 23, one recruiting analyst said he was averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game for the Dragons. 

Anyone with information regarding the case should contact Gwinnett Police Department at 770-513-5700 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477. The investigation remains ongoing.

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