PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The family of a teen girl who was gunned down in a mass shooting over the weekend is heartbroken and desperate for answers.
Makayla Harris was shot and killed on SW 3rd Avenue in downtown Portland in the early hours of Saturday morning. The 18-year-old was one of seven people who were shot; the other six victims are recovering.
“There was a group of kids — young adults — hanging out at the food carts, just being free spirits, just hanging out, and here comes a car and starts shooting because they’re looking for someone else that was in the crowd,” said Makayla’s aunt Patricia Center.
Makayla graduated from Grant High School just one month ago. Patricia said Makayla had started work as a caregiver at a nursing facility and wanted to eventually become a registered nurse. Patricia described her niece as a “bubbly little girl who liked to make everybody laugh” and who “always had a smile on her face.”
Makayla’s cousin, Briana Miller, said she and Makayla grew up together and were as close as sisters.
“My cousin couldn’t even get her life started,” Briana said. “She just graduated high school and had her own job.”
The family wants to know why Makayla’s life was violently ripped away from her in the city where she grew up.
“This is the part that angers me the most — that I can hug my daughter, I can tell her that I love her but I can’t explain to her why these people decided to do what they did that night,” said Patricia. “When does it stop? What is it going to take for someone to put a stop to it?”
Patricia said Makayla was not involved in gangs. She said she believes that Makayla might still be alive if there was a larger police presence in the city.
“I’m not saying the police are Superman but just the presence of the police stops a lot of the stuff that goes on,” she said. “Just having that presence could’ve prevented this and probably a whole bunch more like it so take the police off the street and here we go with more shootings, more deaths.”
Patricia said her twin sister (Makayla’s mother) is also desperate for answers.
“She’s pounding on the table, she’s asking why. Who can tell her why? You can’t tell this woman why her little girl is gone,” Patricia said. “My sister will never be able to hug her daughter again. The last image she’ll have of her little girl is closing a casket.”
Detectives believe multiple people left the shooting scene without talking to police and that some of those people may have information that is vital to solving the case, Portland police said Tuesday.
Crime Stoppers of Oregon is offering cash rewards to anyone who brings forth information that leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted online and tipsters can remain anonymous. Patricia has also urged anyone who may know something to come forward.