BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — 7th graders aren’t supposed to spend their Fridays fighting for their lives because of bullet wounds, and they’re not supposed to die at hospitals before they even reach high school .
But that’s exactly what happened to 12-year-old Ahmaya Alexander last week, in a shooting where a suspect has not been caught.
On Tuesday, mourners flooded the corner of 11th and L streets, the spot where she was killed, to remember her in a vigil.
According to her family, Ahmaya was sitting outside her home, earbuds in, when she was struck by gunfire.
“These cowards didn’t – she didn’t even hear it coming, she had her headphones in,” said her grandmother, Elaine Bradley. “She tried to call her mom for help. Feel that, don’t just sit here, feel that.”
Bradley called for the shooter to turn themselves in.
Police were alerted at around 10:45 PM on Friday. Ahmaya died less than 30 minutes later at Kern Medical. At the vigil, her family was surrounded by friends, her classmates and teachers – all watched over by police officers at each corner of the block. Many wore black and red – Ahmaya’s favorite colors, and the colors of the dozens of balloons released in her memory.
There were enough people to take up the street corner, but several people — including her great aunt, Beverly Scott — questioned why the crowd didn’t match the size of police protests for people killed outside of town.
“I don’t hear people saying Ahmaya’s name,” Scott said, “I don’t see BLM walking down the street or marching, why, our lives don’t matter? Because she wasn’t taken by some police officer? That’s wrong!”
But at the vigil at least, people did chant and shout Ahmaya’s name – while several speakers also called for a stop to violence in Black communities. Scott urged people to “put down the gun and pick up a book.”
“Be Black and be proud, but be together,” Scott said.
“We say names like Sandra Bland, and George Floyd,” said Patrick Jackson, President of the local chapter of the NAACP. “But right here in our city, in our community, was taken.”
“As much there is a God, there is a real devil,” said Jackson, “and we need to get that devil out of our neighborhood.
The vigil was organized by the Wendale Davis Foundation and attended by Bakersfield mayor Karen Goh and Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, who all urged people to do the right thing and get justice for Ahmaya.
“This child should’ve had the opportunity to grow up and go to prom and get married and everything she dreamed of doing,” said Zimmer, urging people to catch the “coward” who shot Ahmaya.
Wesley Davis III, the brother of Wendale Davis, gathered all the younger children in the crowd at one point, asking people to recognize how their lives are at risk if the violence continues.
“Just up the street, and around the corner,” said Davis III, “there were two other young children taken. So I ask you, how many more?”
Secret tips can be sent to Kern Secret Witness, by calling (661) 322-4040. According to KGET.com’s homicide tracker, Ahmaya’s death is the 50th homicide in Kern County this year; to compare in 2020, there were 50 homicides by the end of May, and that year went on to set a record high.