Kentayvia Blackful’s family will throw her the 12th birthday party she never got to enjoy after she was fatally shot Monday night while sitting inside her home in south suburban Harvey.
The family will hold the party in her memory from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Markham Roller Rink, 16630 Dixie Highway, according to her mother, Kentnilla Blackful, and grandfather Ken Donner.
“Normally for her birthday, it’s just me, her dad and her siblings, and that’s it,” Blackful said. “But this year, people were able to come, so I had rented out the skating rink, and we were going to have her a big birthday party because she hasn’t had one since all her cousins moved away.”
The family wants the public to come out and make it “the biggest party ever” for Kentayvia, she said. They also hope to make the skating party an annual tradition.
The tween was sitting at the computer designing a shirt for her party about 9:30 p.m. Monday when someone fired gunshots outside her family’s home in the 15800 block of South Paulina Street, according to relatives and Harvey police. Bullets came through the window and wall of the front room, and Kentayvia was shot in the head.
“She was just so happy, everybody was just so happy, her sister was sitting there also, she was sitting on the floor in front of me, and out of nowhere, just, it ended,” Blackful said.
She was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was pronounced dead at 10:28 p.m. on Tuesday, her 12th birthday.
Blackful said her oldest daughter was “a very smart and bright young girl” who’d been a straight-A student since kindergarten. She was the captain of her basketball team at Maya Angelou Elementary School and had just made the team at Brooks Middle School.
Kentayvia was a role model for her 6-year-old sister and 3-year-old brother, and helped tutor other kids at school, Donner said.
Blackful said she sends her children to visit family in Arkansas, Ohio and Georgia every summer to get them away from gun violence in the Chicago area until it’s time to go back to school.
“I tried to keep them safe, that’s why I do that,” Blackful said. “And for her to just be sitting in her own home [and be shot], I don’t understand.”
The family has been staying at motels since the shooting because being in the home where Kentayvia was shot is too painful for her, her husband and her children, the mother said.
“Going into that house is unbearable,” she said. “The memories, when I walk in there, I just relive it. I relive it. I already relive it every time I close my eyes, I open my eyes, I think, I drift off. I just see my baby die in my arms.”
Funeral arrangements are pending to allow time for out-of-town relatives to arrive.
Early Walker, co-owner of Walker & McFarland Funeral Services, is covering part of the funeral expenses, and the Blackful family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover other costs and pay for new housing, according to spokesman Sean Howard.
Donner is urging anyone who may have seen or heard something the night of the shooting to come forward with information.
“Call and tell [police] what you saw,” he said. “Any little bit of evidence, what you think is nothing, might turn out to be the thing that cracks the case.”
Police said no one is in custody.