Jada Rankin was looking forward to being homecoming queen at Sterling Heights High School, where she was a straight-A student.
The “baby of the family” and only girl among three boys, the 15-year-old was in Detroit on Saturday, visiting the family home on Ardmore Street where many of her relatives were raised and where her cousin, Belante Cobb, and his grandmother, Minnie Cobb still live.
“Although Jada lived in Sterling Heights with her mother and father for many years, since 2008, she visited this house every weekend,” Minnie Cobb said Sunday evening.
That fateful day was supposed to be a birthday celebration for her brother Chris, who turned 23 on Saturday.
Instead, Jada drew her last breath early Sunday when an angry driver, who had been speeding up and down Ardmore, shot into the small family group gathered outside the home around 2 a.m. Chris had asked him why he was driving so fast, Cobb said.
“I wasn’t actually there, but I’ve asked family members what happened at least 50 times,” he said fighting back tears over the phone.
“My family told me Jada and her brother and some other family members were about to leave and Chris was trying to cross the street when the guy came speeding by,” said Cobb, 19. “That’s when Chris asked why he was driving so fast and I guess the driver took offense, even though I was told Chris wasn’t yelling or talking rudely. They told me the guy opened his car door and shot six or seven times.
“The first shot hit my cousin in the stomach and now she’s dead.”
Cobb said she was taken to Sinai Grace Hospital, where authorities say she died.
“Jada was loved by everyone,” he said. “She would do anything for anybody. She was there for me.”
Cobb said he has cerebral palsy and couldn’t walk when he was younger.
“She was the one pushing me in my wheelchair,” he said. “She was never judgmental and was always there for her family and friends.”
Her grandmother Minnie Cobb said Jada not only helped him in his wheelchair, she accompanied him to his prom last year.
“She was the sweetest child, so smart and so good,” she said. “She was a young woman reaching for the stars.
“She had three older brothers and her mother prayed for a girl. Jada was the baby of the family and the only girl.”
Sterling Heights High School principal Craig Miller wrote in a notice on Warren Consolidated Schools’ website Sunday: “It is with great sadness I report that one of our students, sophomore Jada Rankin, was tragically killed last night. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family at their very difficult time.”
Miller said the districtwide Crisis Response Team will be at the high school Monday to help students deal with the tragedy.
Police said the shooting took place about 2 a.m. on the 14300 block of Ardmore, which is north of Schoolcraft and west of Schaefer on the west side.
A silver 2007 Chevy was spotted speeding before family members confronted the driver, police said.
A family member tried to chase the suspect, but lost control of their vehicle and hit a pole, police said. That person also was hospitalized, said Officer Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.