The Phoenix serial street shooter’s deadliest attack killed a 12-year-old girl, her mother and her mother’s friend. The victims’ friend and first person to find them shot is now reliving that horrible moment in hopes that she can help catch the killer.
In the early morning hours of June 12, 12-year-old Maleah Ellis was asleep on the couch inside the house when her mom, Stefanie, came inside to use the bathroom.
“I guess she heard her mom's voice and I guess that's when she woke up. She woke up and said ‘Mom, where are you going?’” Sharon Layton, a family friend who was at the house that night, said.
Stefanie had been outside in her car listening to music with her partner, Angela Linner, Layton said. Maleah followed her mom back out to the car and moments later shots rang out from the driveway.
Layton came running from inside.
“And when I yelled for help Maleah popped up from the back of her mom," Layton said. "She was gasping for air, just gasping for air."
Stefanie and Linner both seemed unresponsive in the front seats.
A mom herself, Layton instantly tried to help Maleah.
“I'm just like, ‘Maleah, just breath. It’s OK, we're here, Maleah.’ But the bullet, I seen it went straight her neck,” Layton said. “I tried to put my finger in her hole but it didn't work because there was just so much blood.”
By the time the cops and emergency workers showed up, Maleah and Linner were dead. Stefanie died in the hospital a couple weeks later.
“You took a child from her mother. You took a mom from her children,” Layton said.
Layton found the courage to speak, hoping her words will give someone the courage to come forward to put the serial street shooter in jail.
“At the end of the day you're not God. You don't get to decide who stays on this Earth and who doesn't.”