PINE BLUFF, Ark. – As Police in Pine Bluff are investigating a deadly Sunday evening shooting that left two teens dead and one injured, a family says it was one of their loved ones who was killed. They’re now asking for justice and change in the community.
Officers with the Pine Bluff Police Department said the incident happened at a house on the 2300 block of West 17th near Hazel Street around 5:50 p.m.
When officers arrived at the scene, they said they found three victims who had been shot, a 14-year-old girl, a 17-year-old young man and an 18-year-old young man.
The officers said both the 14-year-old and 17-year-old were found unresponsive. The Jefferson County Coroner’s office declared both dead at the scene.
Although Officers have not released the name of the victims because of their age, the family of Vaniya Bennett’s said she was the 14-year-old girl who died.
Police began talking to witnesses who told them a vehicle drove by and shot someone outside of the passenger side window.
Officers said that the two young men were shot outside the home and the girl was struck by a bullet while she was in the living room of the home.
Bennett’s mother Vanessa Washington says her worst nightmare came to life the day her daughter died.
“I had to see my child in a body bag,” Washington said. “I went to verify my child and when I found my child’s face, it was swollen and she had blood everywhere she was hit from the bullet.”
Washington said Bennett was at a friend’s house when she was shot and killed.
“This face that I saw yesterday at the morgue didn’t look like this picture,” Washington said.
Bennett’s aunt Rachel Will said she is still in disbelief.
“Like how and why Vaniya of all people,” Will stated. “She’s gone because a careless person wanted to take her life.”
Washington remembers how often her oldest spoke about her dreams.
“She always talked about when she graduated from high school, she wanted to be a pediatrician,” Washington said.
She said she prays justice will come soon.
“I’m crying out and I’m hurting please someone knows something so one knows something about my child’s murder,” Washington said. “I’m asking stop the violence stop the violence it’s too many of our kids dying, my child was innocent.”
Washington stated she wishes she could tell her daughter one last time how special and loved she was.
On Monday, police said the 18-year-old who was taken to the hospital for his injuries was in stable condition.
This investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 870-730-2106 or 870-730-2090.
Officials said that these are the 13th and 14th homicides in Pine Bluff in 2023.