DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Loved ones gathered Friday to mourn the tragic death of a 5-year-old Durham girl and show solidarity for her 15-year-old cousin who was injured trying to save the little girl's life.
Khloe Fennell, 5, was at home with her two cousins Wednesday when she was killed. Her 15-year-old cousin Destiny Sidberry was babysitting while Brittany Dash, Khloe's mother, was at work.
Family members said Destiny dived in front of the bullets to shield Khloe and 1-year-old Amir Deloach, the other child.
Durham Police Department said Brian Luster, 42, was the man pulling the trigger.
Family members said Luster is Dash's first cousin and had been staying with the family as they tried to help him get through his battle with drug addiction. Luster now faces first-degree murder charges. He has not yet made a court appearance in the case because he is on a medical hold.
"He took the best part of me; that was my child, that was the best thing I've ever done in my life," said Dash. "She loved him, so for you to take my baby away from me, you're a coward."
"You took something so precious from us," Dash said. "My niece is going to be traumatized for the rest of her life because she dove in front of those bullets."
Destiny was shot seven times, but encouragingly, was said to be improving at Duke University Hospital on Thursday night.
Licensed mental health counselor Paula Newman said the family has a long road ahead to overcome the trauma of what has happened.
"Well the mom is grieving the loss of her child, but she was already grieving the loss of her father. So she was dealing with a lot of grief, and you just start there with giving yourself enough time," Newman said. "The way that we get over the trauma is to talk about the trauma and normalize it, and the more you talk about it, the easier it gets for you."
ABC11 also spoke with Amir's mother,
"Khloe was my baby, too," said Tamera Roberts. "So you know, it's hard for all of us. Khloe didn't deserve this, Destiny didn't deserve this, nobody did."
Durham Police investigators said Luster shot the girls with Dash's gun, which she said was locked up.
Several community members gathered in downtown Durham on Thursday to mourn the loss. Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews attended but was too emotional to talk about the case.
Dash had already lost her mom and dad, and now, she's lost her only child. The family is using an online fundraiser to try to help Dash get out of her east Durham house.
"I don't wish this feeling on no one," Dash said.
She was choked at Khloe's vigil Friday night, but Bishop James Spence, who led the service in the street made an observation.
"I watched her just literally fight for breath. Because it's unimaginable to lose your child," said Spence.
And the community showed up hoping to shoulder some of her grief.
"The strength of this community is the only thing that I think helped her just breathe in this moment. And for that, I'm very grateful."
Khloe was honored with the color pink and balloons. Her life was cut short by violence that met her unexpectedly inside her Durham home.
"This is happening too much. And we have to do some things, I think, audible I think we have to make some real noise about the need for passionate love and unity in our community," said Spence.
"The best thing that can be done is we rally around the mother and rest of family after everything is over. Because right now, they don't even really know, they know we are out here and but then they don't know, because everybody's in a state of shock," said Charlitta Burruss, a long-time advocate in Durham.
She feels heartbroken like many others in the community.
"I was just so hurt. Words could not express as a mother, as a grandmother. I just went home and sat in my chair and just got numb. I feel for this young lady," Burruss said.