DENVER (KDVR) — A young girl was shot on Wednesday night while in a stopped car in the Montbello neighborhood. FOX31 has learned from the family that the victim was just 16 years old and died Thursday morning at a local hospital.
Wendy Cortez, a grieving mother, is trying to make sense of it all. She identified the victim as her daughter, Aaliyah Cortez.
“You took my baby,” Cortez sobbed. “She didn’t deserve it, not Aaliyah.”
Cortez was just with her daughter 24 hours ago, and now she’s attending a vigil in her honor.
Thursday night, friends, family and community members flooded a parking lot on Alameda for a candlelight vigil to remember the teen. As emotions ran high, dozens showed up wearing red and holding red balloons. Cortez said her daughter loved working on and fixing up cars and had a sweet soul.
“The support is amazing. She had a heart of gold,” Cortez cried. “She was the most sincere, kind person you could ever meet.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help honor Aaliyah’s memory.
Denver police are investigating Aaliyah’s death as a homicide but haven’t released much about the case. According to a release, at 6:20 p.m. on Wednesday night, a suspect approached a stopped car on North Atchison Way, pulled out a gun and shot the victim once.
“I just feel like whoever did it was a coward because they attacked two girls and it was two males,” Cortez said through tears. “Who attacks two women with a gun.”
Cortez shared what she knows with FOX31. She said her older daughter was driving and Aaliyah was the passenger. The sisters got turned around and stopped the car to activate their GPS.
Cortez said that’s when two men came up to the car and started tugging at the door handles. She goes on to say, one suspect pointed the gun at her 19-year-old daughter’s head and that’s when Aaliyah jumped into action.
“She got out of her seat and tried to swat the gun out of his hand and there was a scuffle in the car. The gun went off and hit her,” Cortez explained.
She said the bullet damaged several vital organs, and doctors told their family Thursday morning Aaliyah was not going to survive. The 16-year-old was pronounced dead, surrounded by family.
As the Cortez family grieves and tries to cope with the trauma, they are seeking justice and want whoever pulled the trigger to turn themselves in.
“Not my baby,” Cortez cried. “She didn’t deserve it.”
The suspect(s) are still at large. Our partners at Metro Denver Crime Stoppers are offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest. If you know anything call 720-913-7867 or Denver police.