It happened in a parking lot at an apartment complex on Atka Court near Rochelle Street in eastern Durham around 7:30 p.m.
Witnesses told police a green, older model Ford Windstar or Chevrolet Astro van came down Rochelle Street and someone inside the van fired several shots as the van approached Atka Court. Police say several people were riding in the van and it was last seen heading west on Holloway Street.
Detectives say it doesn't appear that Shakanah China of #7-B Atka Court - a seventh-grader at Lakeview School in Durham - was the intended target.
China's mother told ABC11 Wednesday that the first shot missed her daughter, but two more struck her. Demetriss China said the girl died in her arms.
"My daughter was on her phone texting, and I had seen a green van ride by and didn't pay any attention to it. But then 30 minutes later, the same green van came through and started shooting," she said.
Neighbors described the teen as a vibrant young girl who had dreams of becoming a nurse. She was often seen babysitting her younger siblings.
While police have not identified any suspects, China's family described the incident as gang related, and asked the suspects to turn themselves in.
Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator Pate at (919) 560-4440 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.
Signs put up around the Durham neighborhood Wednesday called for an end to violence.
"It's time out for the gang-bang, fighting, and a whole lot of foolishness," said Shakanah's aunt Diane Billings. "It's time to stop this. This was a little girl who wanted to be somebody, wanted to grow up and go to school and be a nurse. She was happy and she's going to be missed."
A search of ABC11 archives shows this is the second shooting involving a teen at the apartment complex.
In June 2009, a 16-year-old was shot in the same parking lot and rushed to Duke Hospital with serious injuries. Witnesses then told police someone in a dark colored SUV fired the shots. A 17-year-old was later charged.