Tulsa police say it's hard to find a more innocent victim than 17-year-old Kayla Ferrante. She was murdered Saturday when someone fired a high-powered rifle into a car she was riding in with her boyfriend.
Police can't find a reason for the shooting and have no leads.
Kayla had just graduated from Memorial High School the night before and had her family celebration Saturday afternoon.
Kayla was the light of her parents' lives. She was a typical teenager, who preferred jeans and T-shirts to dresses. She was determined to graduate high school a year early and get on with her life -- and she did.
She began working with special needs children and knew that would be her career.
"She met those children and found her calling," Kayla's mother Roxanne Thornton said.
Kayla was signed up for a college class this summer and was scheduled to volunteer at Little Lighthouse. She loved working with children and had done so on a recent mission trip.
After her graduation party at her grandmother's Saturday afternoon, she went to a friend's house. Her boyfriend was bringing her home before midnight and was just a few yards from her driveway when the shots rang out.
Her mother heard them and went outside.
"I ran to her," Roxanne said. "She was slumped in the seat. I could see her bleeding. I put my hand over her to stop the bleeding. I begged her to stay with me. I told her I loved her. She mumbled something and rolled her eyes but wouldn't open them. She was still breathing; her heart was still pumping blood out of her."
But Kayla died in surgery. She left behind a devastated family, including her baby brother.
Someone with a high-powered rifle fired six shots. One shot went through the car's license plate, through the seat and out Kayla's chest.
Her family will never have any peace until they know who, until they know why.
"I held her as she was dying in that car," Roxanne said. "I can't ever hold her again. I have to know why. There has to be an answer."
Kayla wasn't doing anything wrong; she wasn't somewhere she wasn't supposed to be. She was just a teenage girl excited to embark on the rest of her life
"Now we're left with nothing, but pictures and memories and questions," Roxanne said.
Police say this case will only be solved with the public's help. If anyone saw a car speeding through the East Tulsa neighborhood near 15th and 122nd East Avenue Saturday night before midnight or knows whether this shooting was an accident, call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS, or the homicide tipline, 918-798-8477.
Kayla had texted her mom just hours before her murder, thanking her for the graduation party and telling her how much she loved her.