JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday evening to remember a 12-year-old girl fatally shot during a birthday party sleepover and to put a spotlight on gun safety.
Ramya Eunice was removed from life support Thursday at UF Health Jacksonville, where she had been since the April 30 shooting at a home on Willow Branch Avenue, in the city's Lackawanna neighborhood on the Westside.
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Five days after Ramya passed away, family members, friends, neighbors and classmates filled the streets of the neighborhood to honor the girl who lost her life and call for justice.
"She was a real sweet girl," one attendee said. "I loved her."
They also prayed for Ramya's grieving family, and prayed that no other child dies the way she died.
"I get so tearful just seeing all the support," said Harriet McNeal, Ramya's aunt. "All the phone calls, the cards and stuff people have sent us are really amazing and great."
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Ramya was accidentally shot in the head by an 11-year-old boy, who said he found the gun at an unlocked, unoccupied neighboring home.
Ramya's family and the MAD DADS organization used the vigil to highlight the importance of gun safety.
"If they have a weapon in the house, please put it up. Please conceal it or put it up somewhere high so another incident doesn't happen like this again, because loosing Ramya -- oh my God -- this has destroyed our family," McNeal said.
The family has already spent the last three years dealing with the death of another family member who was shot and killed. The shooter in that case is now serving 45 years in prison.
"This family is going through heartache, yet again, because of gun violence," MAD DADS vice president A.J. Jordan said.
Police said that they are investigating the girl's death as a homicide, but no charges have been filed. Her family said they continue to seek justice.
"We, my family and I, will not give up until someone is held liable for my niece's death," McNeal said.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, who also attended the vigil, took several moments to talk to parents about the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of young people.
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