Suspect in custody after 14-year-old girl shot to death in downtown Gastonia

GASTONIA, N.C. — Police have arrested the man they said shot and killed a 14-year-old girl outside of Rodgers Bail Bonding in Gastonia on Tuesday afternoon.

Officers were called to North Chester Street near Airline Avenue just after 1:15 p.m. for a medical emergency. When they arrived, they found 14-year-old Nivia Danner, who had been shot.

She was taken to hospital where she later died, police said.

On Wednesday, police named 19-year-old Santonio Azanier Eskridge as a suspect in the case.

Police said Nivea Danner had arrived at the bail bonds business in a car that Eskridge was driving. While the vehicle was parked in front of the business, and for reasons still under investigation, Eskridge shot Danner, investigators said.

Eskridge then sped away from the scene, though the car was found later Tuesday evening, abandoned in a neighboring county.

Later Wednesday, police said Eskridge was taken into custody. He has been charged with second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.

On Wednesday, mother Deandra Danner shared a video of her daughter, Nivia, singing.

The mother also had photos of Nivia at church where she belonged to a youth group.

“Nivia was an inspiration to just about everybody she met,” Deandra Danner said. “She never met a stranger. And you know I wish I had that ability that she had.”

Police have charged the driver of the car, Santonio Eskridge, with second degree murder.

Eyewitnesses say he left Nivia in the parking lot after they along several others had gone to Rodgers Bail Bonding to bond someone out.

Deandra Danner said that her daughter wasn’t in school Tuesday.

On Monday, Nivia was suspended from Hunter Huss High School after sticking up for her brother who had been jumped on campus, her mother said.

Hours before the murder, Deandra Danner said she asked the school to allow her daughter to return.

“My son missing school because of his injuries. My daughter, being his brother’s keeper, was fighting at all cost to keep her brother safe,” she said.

Nivia Danner wants to remind parents the dangers of firearms around young people.

“I didn’t take that as my final time seeing her, or I would have said, ‘I love you’ or would have hugged her extra tight,” Deandra Danner said.

Micholas Rodgers, owner of the bail bondsman business, said three others were outside, including the 14-year-old who was shot.

“I definitely want to send my love and condolences to the family at this time,” Rodgers said. “The investigators are trying to determine what happened to this young lady and our prayers and thoughts are with the family.”

Rodgers said he was organizing a vigil for loved ones.

On Wednesday, Channel 9 also spoke with some of Danner’s friends, who talked about Nivia’s love for her church and her family.

“It just hit hard yesterday,” said Antonio Kennedy. “I started crying during work, and went home, shut down my phone and didn’t want to talk to nobody. It was just a whole day in tears.”

Channel 9 also spoke with Danner’s pastor, who said the teen was very involved in the youth group at the church.

Detectives believe the shooting is an isolated incident.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.

(WATCH BELOW: Mom of man charged in toddler’s drive-by shooting death: ‘I apologize to the family’)