Tonora Jones remembers the last conversation she had with her 14-year-old daughter before she died after being shot in what authorities say is a gang-related shooting.
Ta'shuntis Roberts, nicknamed "Tootie," died about 9:50 p.m. Sunday, nearly four hours after she was shot multiple times in her home in Macon's Bloomfield neighborhood.
"At the hospital she was alert, and when they let me (see) her, she was talking and everything," Jones said Monday. "She talked to my mom and asked her, 'Where is my mom?' and I told her, 'I'm right here. I love you, be strong.' She said, 'I love you, too. I'm gonna be OK.' That was our last conversation."
Sunday night, Tootie was at home with her 16- and 17-year-old brothers and a few friends, said Jones, who at the time was at a store exchanging a Christmas gift for Tootie.
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"I bought her some boots for Christmas and they were too small, so I told her to come ride with me to take them back," Jones recalled.
Tootie told her she wasn't dressed for shopping, so Jones went without her.
Bibb County sheriff's investigators have not yet identified the two people who fired bullets into the house.
More than 25 shell casings were found in the front yard of the house in the 3900 block of Lindwood Drive where Tootie, a Southwest High School freshman, had lived for three years. Tootie died in an operating room of the Medical Center, Navicent Health.
Although investigators initially thought she was shot at least once in the side, emergency room doctors discovered she was hit more than once. Authorities later said she'd been shot at least five times.
Investigators marked and assigned a letter to each bullet hole on the ranch house, which was decorated for Christmas with lights in each front window.
This isn't the first shooting death to devastate the family. Tootie's father, Tavares Maurice Roberts, was shot and killed in June 2006 in a room at the Discovery Inn on Chambers Road, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.
On Sunday evening, one man was sitting on a nearby porch when he heard the shots. He ran into the street with his own weapon and fired several times. He said the people from the car got back in the vehicle and drove off.
"Any of my neighbors on the street, I'm going to look out for them," the man said. "We've never had a problem over here. This street is so quiet you can sit here and hear a pin drop."
Glen C. Shepard lives down the street from the family. He said he and his wife were backing out of their driveway to go to church Sunday when they heard what they thought to be fireworks.
"When we left, we didn't even think anything about it because we just thought it was fireworks," Shep- ard said. "We got home last night from church, and we found out there was a shooting over there."
Shepard said he also saw a car outside the family's house but didn't think much of it until later.
Dick Snow, 78, said he has lived on Lindwood Drive for 28 years.
"More or less, it's pretty pleasant," Snow said of the neighborhood. "You never have a whole lot of traffic, walking up and down the street with young kids. We're mostly a neighborhood of retired people."
Bernice Granville, 67, lives across the street a few houses down from where Tootie was killed. Granville said she didn't know about her death until Monday morning.
"I feel bad for the child (whose) life was taken so suddenly," Granville said. "I have grandchildren and my heart goes out to the family. ... I wish this on no family. It's hard being so close to my residence. It gives you something to think about, really."
SHERIFF: SHOOTING WAS GANG RELATED
Surveillance footage from a neighbor's house shows two men exiting an older model, light-colored vehicle before unloading their pistols. The men have not been identified, but Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said in a Monday afternoon news conference that investigators have determined the shooting was gang related.
Four hours after shots were fired at the house on Lindwood Drive, deputies responded to another drive-by shooting about two miles away on Alfred Drive, Davis said No one was injured in that shooting, but Davis said more than 25 shots were fired at a house and children were in the home.
"Investigators believe this shooting is directly related to the first one," Davis said, adding that it's not yet clear if the same people are responsible for both shootings. "Bullets came close to hitting a 13-year-old, an 8-year-old and an 8-month-old child in this incident on Alfred Drive."
Davis said one of Tootie's brothers is suspected of being affiliated with a known street gang.
"Ta'shuntis was completely innocent," Davis said. "She's a victim of a senseless crime, a senseless act of violence. She was not the target of this shooting."
A friend at the house, Kyalleyz Riley, 16, told authorities that she and 17-year-old Markeese Burton were watching a movie with the three siblings when shots were fired, according to the sheriff's office incident report. Riley told deputies that the five teens dropped to the floor and crawled to a rear bedroom, where it was discovered that Tootie was bleeding.
'SHE WAS ALWAYS SMILING'
Extra counselors were available at Southwest High School on Monday morning to support students and staff who knew Tootie, Bibb County schools spokeswoman Stephanie Hartley said in an email to The Telegraph.
Tootie had lots of friends and was a member of the band's color guard. She enjoyed performing with flags at halftime shows during football games, Jones said.
Jones described her daughter as "a girly girl" and a performer who loved to sing and dance.
"She was just a sweet person," Jones said. "She had the biggest heart ever. She was always smiling and laughing and happy."
Tonora Jones said her daughter was in a relationship with a football player she started dating a few months ago. It was "her first time courting," Jones said.
"She was just always smiling (and) just a happy, friendly person who didn't bother anybody," her mother said.
Liz Fabian and Woody Marshall contributed to this report.