Girl shot during sleepover taken off life support, family says

Ramya Eunice, 12, passes away after late April shooting during birthday party

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 12-year-old girl shot in the head in late April during a birthday party sleepover passed away after she was taken off life support, her family told News4Jax on Thursday evening. 

Ramya Eunice died about 6:30 p.m. on the sixth-floor of UF Health, family members said.

"Our family gathered today at 5. Immediate family and my pastor, Pastor Gundy, and my niece's pastor were all by her bedside to watch her take her last breath," said Harriet McNeal, Ramya's aunt.

McNeal said the family made the decision last week to end Ramya's life support after doctors could not detect any brain activity. She said planning well in advance gave other family members enough time to come be by Ramya's side when her breathing tube was pulled. 

"We all sat together, and my cousins, and we made a decision to let her go to heaven and be with God," said McNeal, who described Ramya as being like her granddaughter because she helped raise both Ramya and her mother.

About 1:45 a.m. April 30, police said, an 11-year-old boy accidentally shot Ramya, striking her in the ear and on the left side of the head, while they were attending a birthday party sleepover at a home on Willow Branch Avenue in the city's Lackawanna neighborhood.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the boy said he found the gun at an unlocked, unoccupied neighboring home. 

Since the shooting, McNeal said, the family had been holding out hope that Ramya would eventually recover. But that changed when doctors told her family that the 12-year-old was not getting any better. 

"We all were prepared. I'm glad they didn't ask us to make the decision when it first happened. It gave us time to make our transition and accept her death," the aunt said. "We are actually a lot stronger than what we thought we would be."

McNeal told News4Jax on Thursday that she needs more answers and she wants justice. Police said Friday that they are investigating the girl's death as a homicide.

"Someone has to be held liable for my niece's death. I don't know where to begin, when you have an 11-year-old that gets a gun that he hid and shoots my niece and says it was an accident," the aunt said. 

No charges have been filed in the case. 

McNeal said the family will hold a candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the home where Ramya was shot. 

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