Godmother of killed 10-year-old girl speaks out ahead of vigil

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of Youngstown continues to question how and why a 10-year-old was caught up in the crossfire of a shooting Wednesday night.

The city and her family are grieving the loss.

Thursday we spoke with the child’s godmother, Tayana Smith, still in shock over the death of her godchild Persayus Davis-May.

Smith planned a prayer vigil for the girl Thursday night at Wean Park. She hopes it will unite all mothers of the community around this cause.

She took care of the girl for a number of years and is very close with her mother.

“I became a part of the family. We’ve just been friends since sixth grade and so I’ve just been around the family a lot,” Smith said.

Persayus was one of just two sisters amongst multiple brothers and a celebrated young girl.

“It was just a very joyful time for her and her family and cousins and brothers, I mean sisters, that they were celebrating a new girl to the family,” Smith said.

Smith said she was a beautiful and loving child with a fun and contagious personality who would have been starting the 4th grade at Taft Elementary school this fall. She was never afraid to speak her mind.

“”She was fun, she was fun to be around. A great character. She was very direct, she spoke her mind. And I love that part of her… I wanted to make sure I tried to direct that, but not try to destroy it. I wanted her to still be assertive and confident in herself,” Smith said.

Persayus cared a lot about her family and was always looking out for her siblings, Smith said.

“It no longer became just my time and her time. It was she had to bring her little brothers along sometimes,” Smith said.

The family is taking the loss hard and are speechless that this happened.

“To be taken away at only 10, I mean, it’s just devastating, it’s devastating,” Smith said.

Persayus was shot and killed inside a house on Samuel Avenue early Wednesday morning. Three adults were also wounded outside the house.

Police say they believe this was connected to another shooting moments earlier that killed 40-year-old Michael Callahan.

Smith is advocating against people retaliating throughout the community and said more needs to be done to help police do their jobs effectively.

“I’d like to see more money infused into the police budget, more money paid to individual police officers to incentivize them to do their job in a different type of way – to be more committed. More training for our police officers, to teach them how to interact and be the peace officers outside of policing,” Smith said.

Police reminded the community a $10,000 reward is being offered for information on Persayus’ death that will lead to an arrest.

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