A young, Camden girl who succumbed to injuries she incurred from a random shooting was remembered on Saturday (August 27) as being a vivacious child who loved to sing.
Little Gabrielle Hill Carter, 8, was playing across the street from her house on the evening of Wednesday, August 25, when several individuals began firing at a man nearby. She was accidentally struck in the head bulled and subsequently rushed to Cooper University Hospital, where doctors attempted to save her all-too-short life. Unfortunately, those attempts would ultimately be made in vain as Carter passed away Friday evening.
As grief-stricken as they were over the sudden loss, Gabrielle’s family, friends and loved ones managed to come together for a vigil in her honor just steps away from where she died on Saturday afternoon.
“Gabby was very smart,” her mother, Meresa Carter-Phillips, relayed to the crowd, as noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “She was an honor-roll student. She loved to read, she loved to write [and] she loved to sing.”
The latter aspect of her life was confirmed by a cousin, Ja’Lia Goodman, 15, when she told the mourners of her last interaction with Carter.
“We got in [our] living room, she turned on the TV, [and] Michael Jackson [was on],” Goodman said. “[Gabby] sang her heart out [to the music].”
She also wasn’t afraid to defend herself, according to another cousin.
“Gabby had an attitude,” they lovingly expressed, while adding that she was also very nurturing and fiercely protective of the people she cared for.
“She was fun, loving, outgoing,” Darryl Mack, Carter’s uncle, revealed. “She had so much character. She was full of life, full of energy.”
A life that has now been stricken down in one of the most violent areas of New Jersey, according to certain statistics. Since the beginning of the year, 27 people, including Gabrielle, have been shot and killed in the gang-ridden city. Alternately, she the third child under 18 to perish in 2016 due to gang violence in Camden.
“I’m hurting,” Carter-Phillips emotionally shared during the vigil. “My baby’s gone, and she’s not coming back.”
Camden City Police Chief Scott Thomson told Fox 5 News that video surveillance taken at the scene shows the men firing at their intended target. Afterward, the shooters fled in the vehicle, leaving little Gabrielle for dead. A reward initially placed at $12,000 for their capture has since more than quadrupled, so says The Star Ledger, but no arrests in the shooting have yet been made.
Carter’s family implored the hundreds of mourners to share what they knew of Gabby’s killer’s identity in hopes of bringing them to justice.
“We know somebody knows something,” Mack stated. “So we encourage anybody, anybody who could have any information, anybody who has any knowledge, to go to the police. [Even] if you think you know, [or] if you hear chatter, we ask that you just report it.”
Activist N’Namdee Nelson, who is close friends with the family and leads the Rising Leaders Global community group, also spoke at the vigil and remarked that the ongoing violence in Camden needs to cease immediately.
“We can’t point fingers [at other people],” Nelson commanded. “We have to look at ourselves and say, ‘How will we make a change today?'”
It was a sentiment that was also shared by Nyzia Easterling of the Saving Grace Foundation, who told all parents that true change begins at home.
“Every child here,” she insisted, “is [on] borrowed [time].”
Despite no longer being there physically, some of Gabrielle Hill Carter’s loved one say that her spirit is helping them move past a truly trying time.
“I lay down every night knowing that my baby’s in a better place,” Carter-Phillips stated. “I [know] that my baby’s watching over us now.”
[Photo via Stikka/iStock by Getty Images]