15-Year-Old Girl with ‘Such a Big Heart’ Killed in Texas Shootings Months After Her Quinceañera
Among the victims of Saturday’s West Texas shootings included a 15-year-old girl.
Although police have yet to release the names of the victims of the shootings, which killed at least 7 people and injured 21, several on social media have identified one of the deceased as Leila Hernandez.
A GoFundMe page was created by Leila’s family on Saturday evening, which revealed that the teenager’s brother Nathan, 18, was also involved with the shooting and had been hospitalized for his injuries.
“Please help out our family as we had a tragedy today,” a message on the fundraising platform read. “Help out for Nathan Hernandez and Leila Hernandez as she passed away and her brother is in the hospital with wounds thank you and god bless you!”
Leilah’s grandmother Nora Leyva recalled celebrating Leilah’s quinceañera in May. “It was like a dream for her,” Leyva told the Washington Post.
On Saturday, Leilah and Nathan were picking up a truck for which he had been saving up for, according to Leyva, who said the pair was walking out of the car dealership when the gunman started randomly shooting. Nathan wrapped his arms around Leilah, taking a bullet in his right arm, Leyva said.
“Help me, help me,” Leilah said before she died, according to Leyva, who told the Post: “I’m not going to be seeing her no more.”
Leila’s death was mourned on Facebook, with several users sharing heartfelt posts about the late teenager.
“We are so heartbroken to hear that our dear friend Leilah Hernandez, has passed away to be with our Lord Jesus. We still don’t want to believe it. She was a victim of the tragic event that took place today in Odessa,” wrote the social media users, alongside a photo from Leila’s quinceañera.
“We are grateful to have been a part of her life, and it hurts our hearts greatly that she is no longer with us on this earth,” the post continued. “We had the privilege to have captured her & her families memories in her quince. She wasn’t just a client, she was a good friend of ours. Such a sweet girl, with such a big heart. Beautiful inside and out. Please keep her and her family in your prayers.”
Concluding the note, the social media user wrote, “May you rest in peace Leilah. You will be missed.”
Another Facebook user, who claimed to have done Leila’s makeup for her quinceañera, wrote that they were “in total shock and disbelief.”
“Unfortunately this beautiful sweet soul was victim to the shootings that took place in Odessa today. Prayers to you Joanna Leyva and may God be there for you and your family through this difficult time. RIP Beautiful,” they wrote.
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In a news conference on Saturday, Odessa Police Department Chief Michael Gerke confirmed that at least 5 were killed and 21 injured near the cities of Midland and Odessa in what began as a traffic stop. Three law enforcement officials — from the Department of Public Safety, Midland Police Department and Odessa Police Department – were shot.
On Sunday, Odessa director of communications Devin Sanchez confirmed that eight people had died, including the shooter. Three of the victims died in Midland, while five died in Odessa.
Odessa police spokesman Steve LeSueur told the Associated Press that as of Sunday, at least one person who was shot remained in life-threatening condition.
During the shooting, a gunman, described as a white male in his 30s, hijacked a postal van and a pickup truck and opened fire on residents, motorists and shoppers, police said on Saturday. The gunman’s motive is not known at this time.
The Midland Police Department confirmed that the gunman had been killed at the Odessa Cinergy movie theater.
“They are shooting at random.” Midland Mayor Jerry Morales told the New York Times, adding that the shootings began shortly after 4 p.m. local time on Interstate 20 and Highway 191, which connects Midland to Odessa. The two cities are approximately 20 miles apart.
Spokespersons for the Midland and Odessa Police Departments did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
A second press conference has been scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
The Odessa and Midland shootings come four weeks after the deadly shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, left 22 dead.
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