On Tuesday, Feb. 18, hundreds upon hundreds of people from the Corpus Christi community gathered in an empty lot at the intersection of Lynch St. and Baldwin Blvd to donate their money, and time, to support the families of the two little girls who were shot and killed during a drive-by shooting on Sunday night.
Six-year-old Naveah Oliva and 2-year-old Lillyanna Valent died after the drive-by shooting on the 4700 block of Cheryl Drive Sunday night. At 11:19 p.m., Corpus Christi Police responded to a report of the shooting, and discovered the two children with gunshot wounds. The children were immediately rushed to the hospital, but died from the severity of their injuries.
To help with funeral costs, and other expenditures, friends and family put together a benefit BBQ and fundraiser, which began at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
"It was just last minute, all of a sudden from one day to the next, we just decided to try and pull an emergency benefit," said Jessica Martinez, a family friend of the Valent family. "We got people to donate time, people to donate food, we've got musicians out here to donate their time for entertainment while everybody's waiting in line."
Martinez said that people have been waiting in line, giving donations and people purchasing plates. Everyone is showing their support in honor of the two girls who lost their lives Sunday night.
"We have people who are just driving by, stopping and giving donations," said Martinez. "Hopefully it'll be enough to cover costs for both families."
Police have yet to identify a suspect, and are still gathering evidence on whether or not the shooting was gang-related. Detectives are working diligently on building a description, and with the help of tips from Crime Stoppers, a suspect is close to being identified.
"I have kids of my own, and just knowing that someone has lost their child is just heartbreaking," said Martinez.
Further, the Corpus Christi Police Department has announced that on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m., a town hall meeting will be held at Fannin Elementary School to discuss crime in the Cheryl Drive area.
"Arnold and Ashley (Valent) just want to say thank you to the community for coming through," said Carmen Zaragoza, Lillyanna's aunt. "This is a hard time for them; they were celebrating their babies' birthday and then this happened.
The funeral services for Naveah and Lillyanna will be held on Friday and Saturday.