12-year-old girl dies after being shot inside Hempstead home; Grief counselors at school

HEMPSTEAD (WABC) -- Grief counselors were on hand at Gray Schultz Middle School in Hempstead Monday to meet with students after a young girl was shot and killed. Twelve-year-old Dejah Joyner died after being shot in the head by a stray bullet while she was in her home in Hempstead on Friday night.

"A lot of people were crying and it was really sad," classmate Keyarah Calnick said. "She didn't live to even see 20."

The sobering point is even more more disturbing when it's an 11-year-old who says it. And as the sixth grader and other students left Hempstead Middle School Monday, it was clear things were different.

"I just really feel bad for the family," teacher Karin Rosebrock said.

Rosebrock taught Joyner and said the little girl was a typical 12-year-old, a Girl Scout who loved to sing and dance. But without warning Friday evening, a bullet meant for someone else hit the seventh grader in the head. She was standing in her living room, and family members say she had just cooked dinner, walked into the room and was handing her older brother his plate.

She was shot and collapsed.

Rosebrock is raising money for Dajah's family, starting a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs and other financial obligations.

"My friend and I wanted to do something to make sure her family was taken care of, because it's really all we can do," she said. "We can't bring her back, but we can make it a little easier."

The kids are working on a pink mural, writing touching messages to Joyner, who wore a tiara to school recently for her birthday.

"The next day, she brought that crown to me," school social worker Cheri Dortch said. "And I still have it, and I'll keep it."

The district mobilized its crisis intervention team at the middle school, as well as the high school, where Dejah's brother plays football.

The principal says the students are experiencing a wide range of emotions.

"I've comforted a couple of students who had just been with her, students who said 'Mr. Rios, she told me she'd be back and I was waiting for her at the soccer field to watch the soccer practice,'" principal Noel Rios said. "Those raw emotions like that. The best thing we can do is be there for them, give them the hugs they need at this time and share with them that we too feel their pain."

Community leaders stood beside friends and family Sunday in Hempstead, just hours after Joyner died.

"My heart is broken, my heart goes out to the family," Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall said at Antioch Baptist Church. "I'm really sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Police are searching for the gunman, and a $75,000 reward is now being offered for any information leading to an arrest.

"We are going to aggressively investigate this case," Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said. "We will turn over every rock, and we will find the person responsible for this."

Anyone with informatioin is asked to call the Crime Stoppers tipline at 800-244-TIPS."
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