Yvette Allen couldn’t hold back her tears as she stood at the picnic table covered with pictures of her daughter, candles, flowers and balloons.
“I just want to sit right here where my baby died, nowhere else,” Allen said. “I’ll sleep right here.”
Loyalti Allah, 13, was killed in a drive-by shooting Saturday night on Icemorelee Street in Monroe. Someone in a black Ford Freestyle opened fire around 8 p.m. on Loyalti and her friends as they waited at the picnic table for a DoorDash delivery, police said.
“She didn’t feel nothing,” Allen said. “She just went into shock and died right here.”
Four suspects have been arrested in connection with the shooting: Javon Robinson, 20, Darius Roland, 19, Jamari McLain, 18, and Jamari Crowder 22. They have been charged with first-degree murder and are now in Union County jail without bond. All four have a court date scheduled for Sept. 1.
“I hate that it happened,” said Monroe police Officer Christian Horne, who frequently patrols the area around Loyalti’s neighborhood. “Unfortunately you have a fair share of shootings out here, but it always sucks when it’s a kid. It’s terrible when it’s anyone, but especially when it’s an innocent bystander.”
At a candlelight vigil for Loyalti at the picnic table Sunday, Allen said she forgave the men who killed her daughter and didn’t want them to receive the death penalty because “nobody deserves to have pain in their body.”
Nicole Wallace, a family friend, told the Observer that Loyalti’s killers should get life because they’re threats to society.
“I hope they get the full punishment,” she said. “This ain’t right.”
Always singing and dancing
Since Sunday, hundreds of friends and family members have driven by Loyalti’s memorial to pay their respects, Allen said.
“If the community and the people can just come and give my baby balloons and flowers, then I’m happy,” she said.
To Allen, a mother of eight, Loyalti was the annoying one who bugged everyone in the house with nonstop singing, but to “everybody else she was peaceful.” The number of lives Loyalti touched in her 13 years of life caught Allen off guard, she said.
“I’ve been trying to figure it out,” Allen said. “A lot of babies over here got shot, but this particular baby got the whole world coming, and I don’t even know why.”
Loyalti was a happy TikTok dancer who loved going to church and singing all the time, Allen said.
“She’s my child,” Allen said. “She was getting on my nerves, but that was the happy nerves because she’s mine. We just had some good times that I’m missing right now.”
Loyalti would sing and dance everywhere — including at Joy Church in Matthews, on the Blue Diamonds Majorettes dance team and at Monroe Middle School where she would’ve been an eighth-grader next month, Allen said.
“She was always smiling. Always willing to give,” church outreach director Isabel Sawyer told the Observer on Sunday. “She was a light to everyone around her.”
To Wallace, Loyalti is “a cheerleader for Jesus.”
“She had a life that had a lot of potential,” Wallace said. “She was a beautiful and talented baby.”
Loyalti and ‘Big Ma’
Margie Borden, Loyalti’s grandmother, said the community has to come together and watch over the other children so nothing like this happens again.
“We have to watch each others’ backs and not let people come in and shoot, shoot, shoot,” she said.
People need to continue to come forward and give police officers more information so her granddaughter’s killers are punished for their crimes, Borden said.
Loyalti used to ride with her everywhere and never bothered anybody, Borden said.
“She would always say ‘Big Ma let me ride,’” Borden said. “She had the prettiest smile on her face.”
Although convicting Loyalti’s killers won’t bring her back, Borden and Wallace said they hope her death will inspire her community to be better.
“We got to do better than this,” Wallace said. “We all family out here.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Monroe Police Department at 704-282-4700.
Staff writer Rogelio Aranda contributed to this story.