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Family seeks answers in Detroit mother’s slaying

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

From charming co-workers to doting on her two young children, Sharonda Thomas-Turner was known as a “bubbly” personality.

“She was a people-person — ‘Do whatever I can, let me make you happy,’ ” said her cousin, Marté Bartrellai. “You always see her with a smile. It was never a frown.”

That’s why those who knew the 24-year-old Detroit mother of two wonder why anyone would want to harm her.

On Sunday afternoon, , she was gunned down on the city’s west side, investigators and relatives said.

Though police say a suspect and three others connected to the shooting are now in custody, Thomas-Turner’s loved ones feel no closer to learning the truth about her slaying.

“I just know that nothing seems right,” Bartrellai said.

As family and friends plan for a funeral, dozens of supporters gathered Tuesday night at the site where Thomas-Turner was fatally shot.

Amid flickering candles, balloons, flowers and teddy bears, they remembered an energetic, hard-working woman who loved shopping and helping others as an X-ray technician.

“She’s so fun-spirited and just bubbly,” her cousin said. “How she went out is not how she was. That’s what’s making it so hard to accept.”

A preliminary investigation found that Thomas-Turner was sitting in her car on the 15000 block of Ward at about 1:20 p.m. Sunday “when the suspect pulled up in a small burgundy vehicle and began firing shots,” police said in a statement.

The mother got out and ran from the car to steer the shooter away from her 3-month-old son, Maison, who was in the car, relatives said. The assailant followed and “continued to fire shots, striking her in the body,” according to authorities.

Her son was not hurt.

A 26-year-old suspect was in custody Wednesday and awaiting arraignment, said Officer Shanelle Williams, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department. “It’s an open homicide investigation,” so other details cannot be released, she said.

Detroit homicide investigators still seek tips from the public at (313) 596-2260. Anonymous tips also can be submitted through Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

Questions remain about the shooting, Bartrellai said. “I know it’s more to it. … This isn’t her life.”

Thomas-Turner, a newlywed who also has a 5-year-old daughter, previously worked at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, her cousin said.

She’d recently been hired at an urgent care facility in Oakland County; the day before her death. “She FaceTimed her mom with her boss saying how much they loved her,” Bartrellai said.

Moved by the loss, friends have launched a GoFundMe page to help the family.

Supporters donated nearly $3,000 through Wednesday.

“RIP lil lady you will always shine bright,” read a post from one contributor. “Imma miss that beautiful smile.”

Another donor wrote: “I love you so much, my heart hurts so bad, my mind won’t come to reality yet. I’m just waiting for you to call me just for you to tell me it’s all a joke. This do not feel real.”