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'Part Of Us Died With Her,' Ja'Nyi Weeden's Cousin Tells WJZ

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) -- Ja'Nyi Weeden came from a big family and was driven by even bigger dreams. The 15-year-old was an aspiring makeup artist with ambitions of opening her own salon.

Those dreams were shattered and her family's life was upended Aug. 10 when the teen was fatally shot while with a group of people on Gelston Drive in Northwest Baltimore. She was rushed to the hospital, but she did not survive.

Monday, more than two months after the shooting, police announced an arrest in her killing. A 16-year-old boy, whose name has not been released, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death.

Ramond Durant, Ja'Nyi's cousin, opened up to WJZ on Tuesday about the life taken too soon. He said his cousin was universally adored within her family.

"She was an absolute angel. Not perfect, but an angel still," Durant told WJZ.

Between her talents and her dreams, Durant said, Ja'Nyi's family was convinced she would go far in life. They were all waiting on the day that things came full circle and she started her own business.

"We were waiting to see her own a salon, her own beauty shop," Durant said. "She was absolutely magnificent."

Instead, the teen's life was snuffed out far too soon. A senseless killing in a city afflicted by violent crime -- Baltimore has seen 268 homicides this year, a 1.5-percent increase over the same time last year.

And while news of the arrest provided the family with a measure of closure, there are some wounds that never fully heal, no matter how much time passes.

"A part of us died with her," Durant said. "We really didn't have a full experience with her, and it's devastating."

Ja'Nyi's family isn't alone. Families throughout Baltimore have been torn apart by violence, whether their loved ones are the victims or the perpetrators.

Earlier this month, 16-year-old Delmonte Keels was shot in the same neighborhood as Ja'Nyi was. His killing remains under investigation.

That young people haven't been immune to violence isn't lost on Durant, who said more needs to be done to help the city's youth -- before it's too late.

"If you look at it, the age is getting younger and younger," he said. "Our perpetrators are getting younger and youbnge, and they are getting more lost, day by day."

The Keels family has set up a GoFundMe to help them with final expenses. Click here to learn more or make a donation.

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