Heartbreaking tributes have been paid to a young cheerleader who was killed when a stray bullet hit her in the head at a party.
Hailey Stephens was shot after getting caught in the line of fire at a party in Casa Grade, Arizona. Casa Grande police say 50 to 60 people were at a vacant home when a gunfight broke out, with at least least 60 shots fired and more than two shooters were involved.
The 17-year-old was rushed to a hospital in Phoenix in critical condition but doctors couldn’t save her. She passed away around 5 p.m. The other teen girl was shot in the arm and is expected to survive, police said. Now as Hailey's college scholarship letters roll in, her family are having to instead plan her funeral.
Hailey, a senior at Casa Grande Union High School, was top of her class and part of the National Honors Society and the cheerleading team. Her family say also had multiple college scholarships and dreamed of becoming an ASU cheerleader. Hailey's family have now paid tribute to their "superstar" daughter.
Her mum Vanessa Stephens said: "She was a superstar. She loved to smile, laugh, have fun with her friends. We’re in the state of she’s not walking through the door, that she’s not coming home from that outing with her friends that night having fun. She’s not waking me up." Vanessa added: "Hailey had a huge life left in front of her. Somebody did something wrong and they should pay for their crime. It’s a horrible, awful crime. You need to let the police department know… if people know stuff, they need to say it."
Chris Stephens, Hailey’s firefighter father added: "I’m ready to wake up and it be a dream. You just don’t understand how it could happen to such a promising and beautiful young lady" while Brittanie Hernandez, Hailey’s cousin added: "Even as her big cousin, I admired her so much, you know. I often think that I wish I could be like her. She will never be forgotten.”
Candles, flowers, balloons, and pictures are gathered outside Hailey Stephens’s home in Casa Grande. Loved ones stopped by all day Monday to offer support. On Friday, a candlelight vigil will be at the high school in Hailey’s honor. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral and medical expenses.
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A message on the GoFundMe page read: "The Local 3752 Professional Firefighters of Casa Grande, are raising funds to help the Stephens family after their daughter Hailey was tragically injured yesterday. After being transported by a medical flight crew to a trauma center in Phoenix and being on life support in the ICU, Hailey passed away.
"Our goal is to assist the Stephens family with the significant medical and funeral expenses. Hailey was an active student that excelled academically and in extra curricular activities. She was truly loved by her family and friends. Please if you can, help support the Stephens family in this time of grief."