HARVEY, Ill. (CBS) — A girl who was shot in the head while planning her 12th birthday party in south suburban Harvey has died, authorities confirmed Wednesday morning.
Kentayvia Blackful was struck in the head by a stray bullet around 9 p.m. Monday in her home as her family was putting the final touches on her birthday. The girl’s family said she had just gotten her hair done, and bought new clothes.
Instead of a birthday party, she spent her 12th birthday on Tuesday in the hospital in critical condition. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Wednesday morning that she had died.
A 6th grader at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Harvey, she was considered one of teacher Norma Young’s most promising students.
“She always has a half-smile on her face, but even though it’s a half a smile, it’s always very inviting,” Young said. “So it was rough.”
Young and other teachers joined a vigil for Kentayvia Tuesday night as the girl was still in the hospital.
“Straight A student. She was the president of student council; on the basketball team,” said Carlene Matthews, who taught Kentayvia last year.
Kentayvia’s parents were distraught and asking for help Wednesday night.
“Anybody out here with information about what’s going on, please help us,” said Kentayvia’s father, Trenton Blackful. “I just want justice for Tay-Tay.”
“She’s made the basketball team there also, and it was just at the beginning,” added her mother, Kentnilla Blackful, before breaking down.
Her family said she had just gotten her hair done, and had bought new clothes for her birthday, when she was struck by a stray bullet that came flying through the window of her home near 158th and Paulina streets Monday night.
She was preparing for a school basketball game, and using a computer to download images to put on her shirt for the game, when someone started shooting outside.
The victim’s grandfather said he was on the front porch of the home when two males approached and started shooting at him.
The family ducked down, but a bullet struck Kentayvia in the head. She died the next day, on her 12th birthday.
Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark grew up in the neighborhood where the shooting happened and still lives there. He came to the scene Tuesday afternoon to talk to the residents and let them know he was on the case.
“Personally, it destroys my heart. Every child in the city of Harvey is my child – I’ve always believed that, I always think that, and that’s just the way that it is. So from my heart’s standpoint, it really disturbs me greatly,” Clark told CBS 2’s Marissa Parra. “From a mayoral standpoint, I know that I’m now in a position to do everything that I possibly can, working with the community, to try to make sure that things like this don’t happen again in the future.”
Clark said increased police patrols would be brought in immediately.
“I don’t know how something like this happens, but I know one thing is that there’s things that we can do about it. When something like this happens, honestly, it rocks everyone to their core – especially everyone on this block,” he said. “This is a tight block, OK? People know each other. I know people on this block – lots of people on this block. And so it shakes you to your core. But what we have to find out is, OK what went wrong – you know – how do we fix it; how do we make it better? Because we don’t want to see this happening to anyone ever again.”