‘Lovable little girl.’ Godmother shares last words 15-year-old spoke to her before being killed in Durham shooting ::

— Family members identified a 15-year-old girl as one of six young people shot in Durham early Monday morning.

Ariana Cotton died at the scene of the shooting near the intersection at Mathison and Eugene streets.

Durham police said the shooting happened around 3 a.m., and the SUV the six were in then crashed into a power pole.

A 19-year-old man also died at the scene, according to Police Chief Patrice Andrews. Four other juveniles – three girls and one boy – were taken to Duke University Hospital for treatment, with at least one in critical condition.

Ariana’s godmother, Joyce Sheffield, said she was stunned by Monday’s tragedy.

“[Police] called my phone at 3:30 this morning and tried to wake me and my boyfriend up. I celebrated my birthday the night before, [and] I really didn’t understand what they were saying. I kept hearing ‘hospital.’ They called me back like 10 minutes later [and] tried to wake me up again,” said Sheffield.

Sheffield said Ariana’s personality “lit up a room.”

“She was a protector and a lovable little girl,” added Sheffield.

Sheffield said Ariana struggled after her birth mother passed away last year.

“She took her anger out on everything,” she said. “When she came around to us, she started being loving, caring and stopped getting in fights.”

“When she started turning her life around, the devil just had to do something,” added Sheffield.

Ariana and her friends had come over on Sunday to celebrate Sheffield’s birthday.

“I kissed and told everybody I loved them before they left. They wished me a happy birthday, and I didn’t get them anymore,” said Sheffield.

Sheffield added that the last thing she told Ariana was to stay out of trouble.

“[Ariana] told me she loved me. She said, ‘OK, Ma, I got you,’ and that was the last time I heard from her,” said Sheffield.

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Pascal Mubenga said the shooting has a great impact on students and staff.

“This is really sad for Durham. This is not the first time we endured, and I’m asking all of us – elected officials included – to address this,” said Mubenga.

Sheffield echoed Mubenga’s sentiments.

Durham skyline

“I want to see them do something better for these kids because this gun violence ain’t where it’s at. They’re too young. They have to have something out here to do to keep their minds constructed,” she said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Durham police at 919-560-4440, extension 29163, or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.


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