Teenager Deberianah Begley was laughing and dancing on her porch on a warm Middle Tennessee fall night when the barrage of bullets rang out and it was the last time that the 16-year-old would ever do so.
Begley was described by her loved ones as a sweet, energetic girl, passed away last Sunday in a rain of bullets that broke out between two parties outside her home in the James Cayce public housing development.
As of yesterday, her unidentified killers remained at large and the Metro police continued to hunt them down. A motive for the shooting remains unknown.
“There are kids outside everywhere here all the time,” Begley’s close friend Alex Haney, 18, said Monday as she sat on the porch where the girl was shot, tears streaming down her face. “Why did they do this? She was a good person.”
According to the witnesses and the police, it was about 8:20 p.m. when shots were fired from a group of young men toward another group in the courtyard in the 700 block of South of Eight Street.
When the bullets started flying, Begley was struck in the crossfire while trying to run for cover, witnesses and police said.
Begley was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she died. According to Metro Schools spokeswoman Olivia Brown, Begley attended Stratford STEM Magnet School.
Begley’s friends and loved ones said that she played in the school band, loved to dance and was a member of the local “Divas of Perfection” dance team.
19-year-old Lando Givans said he’d known her for several months and called her a “cool and funny girl who was always dancing.”
“She was a friendly girl … very active in school,” said Marilyn Greer, who lives several doors down from where Begley lived with her mother and younger brother.
Greer also said she was home Sunday night when she heard what sounded like dozens of shots ring out.
“There was so much shooting,” Greer recalled as she stood on the street outside the housing complex. “I told my grandkids to get down.”
When the gunfire stopped, another neighbor told Greer that Begley had been struck.
“My heart stopped,” she said softly.
She said the shooting took place as Begley’s mother was wrapping up a party she had thrown for the girl’s little brother.
As Haney sat on the porch Monday where Begley was shot, she continued to cry as she stared at a single display of red flowers left in the grass in front of her.
“She died right there. I was texting with her 10 minutes before it happened,” Haney said as she used her sleeve to wipe away more tears. “She said she missed me and loved me. I got here as fast as I could, but it was too late. I couldn’t get to her to touch her.”
Outside her home, Monday, the girl’s neighbor shook her head as she walked away from the spot of the shooting, leaves crunching underneath her feet.
“She was a good girl,” Greer said. “She was just on the porch by herself enjoying the day.”
A vigil is set for 7 p.m. Monday outside the girl’s home.
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