Eriana Carr was one of those students who was destined to be somebody.
“As soon as you met her, you instantly felt a connection,” Benson High Principal Anita Harkins-Baldwin said Wednesday. “She was a fabulous student.”
Carr, a popular 16-year-old cheerleader, basketball player and honors student, was gunned down Tuesday night outside her home at 3505 Redick Ave.
She and her cousin Nakia Johnson, 20, had taken a walk and were about to open the family's front gate to go inside when the assailants — inside a car parked across the street — rolled down a window and opened fire.
Her family said they can't understand why anybody would want to hurt Eriana or Nakia. But they believe the gunmen were stalking the young women.
“They shot (Eriana) through her heart like she was nobody,” said her mother Shavon Carr, her voice shaking with anger. “She got as far as the gate. They shot her cousin seven times.”
Carr and Johnson were taken to the Nebraska Medical Center. Eriana died a short time later, making her Omaha's 32nd homicide victim this year.
Johnson, who also lives at the Redick address, was in stable condition Wednesday.
Carr is the second Omaha Public Schools student shot to death this month, and the third Benson High student to die violently in the past 14 months. Montrell Wiseman, a 16-year-old South High junior, died Oct. 21 after he was shot near 21st and Binney Streets.
“It's hard when you're an educator ... you see all that potential,” Harkins-Baldwin said. “It's hard to wrap your head around.”
Omaha police were seeking the public's help in the Carr investigation. No arrests had been made late Wednesday.
Counselors were comforting grieving staff and students at Benson. Harkins-Baldwin described them as “very broken up.”
Carr, a junior, was involved in several scholarship programs for honor students.
She was determined to go to college and had recently thought about becoming an educator — although her mother said performing arts school in New York was her dream. She had recently earned a chance to study in Australia next year.
Johnson had recently started working at Oriental Trading Co., Shavon Carr said. Eriana Carr often introduced Johnson as her sister.
Gunfire erupted in the neighborhood about 8:15 p.m. Shavon Carr, who was taking a night class at Metropolitan Community College, said she had texted Eriana only minutes before the shooting.
Neighbor Tina Johnson said she heard the gunshots and what sounded like a car screeching away. She and another person went outside to help, and found both young women screaming.
Eriana's relatives surrounded her mother inside the home Wednesday, tearfully questioning the city's gun violence.
Eriana Carr had a 19-year-old brother and a younger sister. Shavon Carr said that because of Eriana's death, she plans to leave Omaha.
“Seeing her made it sink in,” Carr said. “She was the light of my life.”
The family showed photographs of a smiling Eriana: hanging out with friends, playing sports or doing school activities. One showed the teen dressed to the nines, posing for a homecoming photo last year with her boyfriend.
Shavon Carr, struggling through tears, said whoever killed her daughter is “a coward, a coward who shot a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old, two babies.”
She added: “God's got my back, so whoever did this to my baby, they will pay, they will. They will feel my pain.”
Anyone with information on the shootings is asked to contact the homicide unit at 402-444-5656.
Tipsters who want to remain anonymous should contact Crime Stoppers at 402-444-7867 or omahacrimestoppers.net, send a text message with “OPD” and the information to 274637, or use the mobile application “Tip Submit.”
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