Community holds candle light vigil to honor teen shot and killed

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 11:37 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A community gathered for a candle light vigil Wednesday night to honor the life of a young girl was shot and killed during the weekend.

“She didn’t deserve what happened to her,” said Charnesta White. “Not only did you take a child’s life, you took a daughter, sister, best friend, cousin and I hope whoever did it gets what they deserve.”

Kanawha County deputies responded to a shots fired call around 2 p.m. Sunday along Ryan Drive, outside of Charleston city limits. Deputies say 14-year-old Da’nija Miller was shot at a home and taken to the hospital where she later passed away from her injuries.

Deputies are treating the incident as a homicide but say that could change as the investigation continues.

“She was very spunky, stood her ground, she believed in what she believed in, and her friends were her friends, no matter what,” said Amy McElhaney, a West Side Middle School teacher who formerly taught Miller. “I had Da’nija in class for the last two years. She had one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known from a kid, and she was able to interact with adults on the level that most kids couldn’t.”

The vigil was held at Piedmont Elementary School park, where Miller began her education. She later moved on to West Side Middle School and was a freshman at Capital High School this school year.

Piedmont Elementary School Principal Ashley James said the vigil was planned by Miller’s classmates and friends -- one who was her close friend, Annaniesha Johnson.

“(We wanted) to bring our community together so we can quit the gun violence and to show love to Da’nija and her family because we lost a real friend out here,” Johnson said. “We can gather the community around to put the guns down and have a non-gun violence life.”

Johnson was one of several people who sent the same message about gun violence in her community.

“I’m so tired of seeing my beautiful babies being taken from us,” McElhaney said. “These kids don’t deserve this.”

Everyone who came to the vigil wore purple or silver, as those were Miller’s favorite colors.

Kanawha County Sheriff’s deputies say no one has been charged with a crime in connection with Miller’s death, but they have not released any further information.

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