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‘Keep her memory alive:’ Mother of slain Gastonia teen shares her love for music, family

The teen was shot and killed outside of a Gastonia business on Tuesday.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:17 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - Nivia Danner was just 14-years-old. She was shot and killed outside of a Gastonia business on Tuesday.

Police say the shooting happened at Rodgers Bail Bonding on North Chester Street around 1:18 p.m. Tuesday. Gastonia police said the initial call was for a medical emergency.

According to the Gastonia Police Department, detectives have obtained arrest warrants charging 19-year-old Santonio Azanier Eskridge with second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. Police announced that he was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon.

Danner’s mother says Nivia had the voice of an angel.

“She was able to express herself so much with her talents and music; she sang for weddings she sang for both my grandmothers’ funerals,” said her mother Deandura Danner.

Danner says Nivia was with her twin brother and two other people at the business trying to bail somebody out of jail.

“According to him, it was just supposed to be an in and out. There was nothing that was supposed to have been wrong with being at a bail bondsman getting someone bailed out,” Danner said.

Danner says the suspect was no stranger to the family.

She believes the shooting was an accident but nevertheless still a tragedy.

“A gun...who plays with that,” Danner said. “I understand accidents can happen and I really feel this was a tragic accident given everyone knew this guy, including my daughter.”

Danner says her daughter had a friend in so many people but the closest of all was her twin brother.

“Niv loved her brother they were two peas in a pod,” she said.

The mother says there’s a reason her child wasn’t in school Tuesday afternoon. Nivia was a freshman at Hunter Huss High School.

Danner says she was suspended for 10 days on Monday because she was trying to protect her twin brother, who Danner says got jumped at school on Monday.

Danner shared a copy of the letter from the school with WBTV.

School officials say Nivia was upset and interfered with staff trying to break up the fight. The letter says she was told to stop by multiple staff members but kicked back and pushed staff.

Danner feels she shouldn’t have been suspended and spoke with school leaders on Tuesday morning, just hours before the shooting, about getting the suspension reduced or terminated.

“She did protect her brother at all cost or she was going to fight trying, and she was suspended for ten days,” the mother said.

Danner says her daughter was actively involved in the church, sang on the choir, volunteered, and was a friend to so many people - but the closest of them all was her twin brother.

“Niv loved her brother; they were two peas in a pod,” she said.

Danner was an active member of Destiny Church in Gastonia where she sang on the choir and was in the youth group. Her pastor shared the following statement with WBTV.

Now Danner is using Nivia’s passion for music to show with the world just how special her daughter is.

“I’m going to do everything I can to keep Niv’s memory alive, I’m gonna start with her music,” Danner said.

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