CLEVELAND - The family of the John Marshall High School junior who was shot and killed in her own backyard last night has many questions and nearly no answers.
"We just don't understand why, how," said Gabriela Zacarias, cousin of the victim, 16-year-old Jennifer Zacarias.
The Zacarias family told reporters Friday that they don't know the 16-year-old suspect who was arrested early Friday about a mile from the Zacarias' West side home in connection with her death. Nor do they know his relationship to her. Cleveland police have not released the suspect's name.
“We don't know if he was a boyfriend, if he was an ex-boyfriend, if he was a friend, a guy who was obsessed with her,” said Zacarias, who added that the victim's friends knew of the suspect.
The shooting happened on West 102nd Street near Thrush Avenue at about 12:15 a.m. Friday.
Police said that Jennifer's father heard gunshots outside, found that his daughter was not in her room and went outside to find her in the backyard with multiple gunshot wounds.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death as gunshot wounds of head, neck and upper extremity.
“It's quiet over here. It's one of the reasons I like it over here,” said Anthony Murry, a neighbor who also lives on W. 102nd Street.
Murry said he didn't see or hear anything early Friday morning, but stressed that there are usually no problems in the neighborhood. He also described the Zacarias and her family as friendly.
“She seemed like a happy person to me. I didn't see her as the type of person that would be in the wrong crowd,” Murry added.
But Zacarias' Twitter page reveals something may have troubled her just hours before she was killed. One of her last tweets reads, "sad, sad night," followed by "Lord knows."
Police said the suspect was taken into custody without incident.
Now, the Zacarias family begins a long painful process of healing.
“She's the nicest person you'd ever meet," said Zacarias. “We had plans for so many things that it's just like shocking.”
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