DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed when someone opened fire on the SUV she was riding in last week will be laid to rest on Tuesday.
Ariuna Cotton, a Hillside High School student, was one of the six young people shot while riding in a stolen SUV on the morning of Dec. 13.
Police said Cotton was riding with a total of seven people when someone opened fire at the vehicle, which caused it to crash at the corner of Eugene and Mathison streets.
Cotton and 19-year-old Isaiah Carrington were shot and killed.
The other shooting victims are a 17-year-old girl, a 13-year-old girl, a 12-year-old girl, and a 13-year-old boy. Authorities said a 15-year-old boy was also in the car at the time, but he was not shot.
A vigil was held for Cotton on Thursday last week. CBS 17 was there and spoke to those who knew the teen. Cotton’s grandmother said her granddaughter was working to get back on track.
“She was getting back on track. She was going to school. Doing stuff that I was asking her to do,” said Cotton’s grandmother, Ann Applewhite.
Early last week, Applewhite told CBS 17 that Cotton was with the wrong people at the wrong time and that she is helping Cotton’s five siblings deal with this loss.
“I want to know why they took her life, what was so bad that they had to take her life? That’s what I want to know, why?” she said.
Cotton’s family said she loved to sing and dance, and that her mother always wanted her to be an artist or a singer. They said Cotton had just lost her mother earlier this year.
Hours before Thursday’s vigil, police said a pistol was found at the scene of the shooting and crash. Cotton’s family and friends said they are working to get more information on what happened.
Local activist Sierra Sowell with the crime prevention group New Durham Vision told CBS 17 her children were close friends with Cotton and she hopes that those in the community will speak up if they know anything about the shooting.
“With people being reluctant to talk to the police in our community it makes it hard, not only for them to help but it makes it hard for us because the bad guys still get to be on the street,” said Sowell.
Cotton’s funeral is scheduled for noon in Zebulon.
If anyone has any information about this case, they are encouraged to call Investigator Crumbley with Durham Police at 919-560-4440, ext. 29163 or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200.