Family and friends gathered Friday night for a somber birthday celebration and vigil in honor of a teen girl fatally shot in Compton last week, allegedly by her stepbrother.
Britney Malone would have turned 14 years old Friday, but her and her father's lives were cut short last Friday, Sept. 28, when they were shot dead at their home on the 600 block of West Palmer Street.
The Compton High School student was described as a smart, funny girl who made friends easily. She got straight As in school and even started a book club in her neighborhood, family said.
She had hoped to one day become a nurse or firefighter, so that she could save lives.
"She was everything. She was the sun," her sister, Champagne Malone, said. "She was so excited about this day, so we wanted to be able to throw her the party that she wanted."
The family sang a tearful rendition of "Happy Birthday" as they celebrated Britney's life.
Deputies who responded to the scene on Palmer Street found three gunshot victims: Malone, her father, Eddie Charges Talley Jr., and her mother, identified by family as 50-year-old Kathy Evans.
Britney's cousin, Shayla Greene, described a terrifying ordeal.
"He shot his stepfather in his head and then he shot Britney," Greene told KTLA. "I can't imagine how scared she was, and that's what makes this so horrible. Because she did not deserve this."
Malone and Talley died at the scene.
Evans, who relatives say was shot as she ran outside for help, remained hospitalized Friday. Loved ones said she was fighting for her life.
"It felt like my whole family just crumbled in a day," Champagne said.
Britney's stepbrother, 43-year-old Jamie Jajuan Williams, was arrested after running from the home naked, sheriff's officials said.
He's since been charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, and could face the death penalty. Williams had pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Champagne said there were no warning signs before the tragic violence unfolded.
"It was out of nowhere," she said. "I can't imagine what would have possessed him to do something like that."
Meanwhile, those who knew her are still struggling to come to terms with Britney's death.
"It's really hard to hear that one of my best friends had died, because she was like a sister," her friend Kennedy Watson said as she broke down in tears. "I just want people to remember her because she was a really nice person."
Williams was being held without bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, inmate records show.
He is scheduled to return to court in Compton on Oct. 24.
The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the cost of Britney's memorial services.