‘She just loved with her whole heart:’ former teacher of teen shot and killed speaks out

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 11:29 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A young life is now gone far too soon, and a community is left mourning after a fatal shooting during the weekend.

Da’nija Miller was 14 years old and just began her freshman year at Capital High School last week.

“She was smart, she was really driven in school,” said Kristy Peters, Miller’s former eighth grade science teacher at West Side Middle School. “She had some difficulties on e-learning, but she never let anything stop her. She was funny, sweet, kind.”

Kanawha County deputies responded to a shots fired incident around 2 p.m. Sunday along Ryan Drive, right outside of Charleston city limits. Investigators found Miller with a gunshot wound and transported her to the hospital where she later passed away.

On Monday, Kanawha County Schools provided additional school counselors and student support personnel to Capital High School, West Side Middle School and Piedmont Elementary. Those were the schools Miller had attended.

“Around December 3, she messaged a bunch of us teachers and said she didn’t think we got thanked enough,” Peters said. “So (De’nija) wanted to thank us, and she was going to do that by sending us a message every morning.”

Peters said she kept true to her word and sent out several feel-good messages and positive notes to several teachers each day throughout her eighth grade year.

“Sometimes it would be a picture of her, sometimes it would be a meme she found on the internet, and it’d say ‘Ms. P’ on it,” Peters told WSAZ. “She’d always tell me to have a good day, that she was thinking about me. I’ve seen a lot of my fellow teachers from West Side post the same thing.”

Peters said the last time she spoke with Miller was a week ago, on Monday, Miller’s first day of school, wishing her a good first day of high school.

“She’d sent me a couple messages over the summer. So I messaged her, wished her good luck on her first day at (Capital High School) and she messaged me back and said she had a great day and she was excited.”

Miller’s death is being treated as a homicide, but deputies say that could change. At this point, no one has been charged with a crime.

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