Family stunned by shooting death of girl

January 15, 2008 5:29:45 PM PST
An 11-year-old Vance County girl is dead and a man is behind bars following a deadly shooting.

Henderson Police charged Demario Thomas with first-degree murder. Friends and family are stunned about the shooting.

All day friends and family gathered at the home of 11-year-old Danielle Terry.

"She never had a bad word, a bad attitude, a bad anything," family friend Tonya Hanks said. "Danielle was Danielle. She was the joy."

Terry was a sixth grader at Eaton Johnson Middle School. Her short life came to an end Monday afternoon during a visit to her cousin's apartment.

Police say Thomas was babysitting Terry and his 3-year-old daughter. One day after the shooting there are still a lot of questions.

"We're trying to figure out a solution to what happened," Hanks said. "So we can have closure. And right now we have no closure."

Later, Henderson Police said a .9 millimeter pistol illegally owned by 23-year-old Thomas was left in Terry's reach. Thomas tried to get it back.

"He took it from the child and the gun discharged, striking the 3-year-old in the hand, and the 12-year-old in the chest," Lt. Charles Pulley, Henderson Police Department, said.

The 3-year-old is in good condition, but Terry died at Duke Medical Center. Despite the shooting's classification as accidental, Thomas was charged with first-degree murder.

That's because he's a convicted felon and legally can't possess a gun.

"It'll be painful because Danielle touched a lot of people," Hanks said, "But you have to dwell on the memories. Because in memories she'll always be here."

Thomas was denied bail and Tuesday's hearing.

Terry's funeral may be held at her school.


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