Family of 17-year-old shooting victim speaks out

OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - Family and friends of 17-year-old Alyssa Neitz celebrated the young girl's life with a crawfish boil Sunday, but also took time to speak out against gun violence.

On Friday, Neitz was shot and killed on Curtis Road in Fairbanks. The Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested a 13-year-old boy. He’s being charged with negligent homicide. The story has sparked a conversation on social media, and the victim's family is speaking out as well.

Instead of mourning, they want to celebrate her life by listening to her favorite songs and eating her favorite food.

"She didn't even get to eat crawfish this year," her boyfriend Trevor Jones says.

Friends and family of Alyssa Neitz say the crawfish on the table are symbolic.

"She wanted to eat crawfish so bad," Tori Lenard says. "She was so excited," Emery Waller agrees.

The crawfish are supposed to be for Alyssa.

"I said we'll go eat crawfish this weekend, baby,” her mom Jennifer Neitz says. “But she doesn't get to see this weekend."

Jennifer says she never thought Friday would be the last day she would ever see her daughter.

She says Alyssa was fun, bubbly, and not afraid of anything, except guns. "She feared guns,” Jennifer says. “That boy took her life playing on her fears."

"I thought I would be able to hold my daughter again. I never thought that when she left for work that morning that would have been the last time I would see her," Jennifer says.

Alyssa’s friend Tori Lenard was there when she was shot. "I just heard a gunshot and my ears started ringing and I still can remember her face," she remembers.

Jennifer believes her daughter's death could have been prevented with more gun safety education. But now, she says her focus is making sure nobody else will have to feel her pain.

"Of course I do want justice but more importantly I don’t want this to ever happen again. This could have been prevented," she says.

But before that conversation starts, they wanted to celebrate Alyssa's life. Though her life was cut short, her family knows that her story will make a difference.

"Sometimes it's not the amount of years you're given that make your life, it’s the amount of life you can live in the years you're given,” her stepfather Michael Hidalgo says. “She truly lived full life with the years she was given."