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Police: Man wanted in shooting death of 14-year-old in Gastonia in custody

The shooting happened at the business on North Chester Street around 1:18 p.m. Tuesday. Gastonia police said the initial call was for a medical emergency.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 9:27 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 1:52 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) – Police have arrested the man wanted in connection with the killing of a 14-year-old girl in Gastonia on Tuesday.

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.

The shooting happened at a business on North Chester Street around 1:18 p.m. Tuesday. Gastonia police said the initial call was for a medical emergency.

Responding officers said they found 14-year-old Nivia Danner in the parking lot suffering from a gunshot wound. The teen later died at the hospital from her injuries, according to law enforcement.

Detectives said that Danner had arrived at the business in a vehicle that Eskridge was driving. While the vehicle was parked, authorities allege that Eskridge shot Danner for reasons that are still under investigation.

Police continue to ask anyone with any information regarding this investigation to call investigators at 704-854-6651.

Related: 14-year-old girl dies after shooting in Gastonia, suspect vehicle found abandoned

The owners of the business, Rodgers Bail Bonding, said the perpetrators “traumatized” the victim’s loved ones and “forever made our family run business a crime scene.”

“On September 14, 2021, tragically a young girl’s life was taken from her in a violent killing at our family-owned business,” Mekoh Rodgers said in a Facebook post hours after the shooting. “Our hearts go out to all of her loved ones and everyone she touched in this community.”

Rodgers expressed thanks for everyone in the community who checked to make sure they were OK.

“Family is very important to us, and although we can never fully understand the pain this young girl’s family is living through right now, the outpouring of concern and the tears shed by our loved ones trying to find out what happened at our business provided a deep moment of reflection,” the post stated.

Gastonia, N.C. – On September 14, 2021, tragically a young girl’s life was taken from her in a violent killing at our...

Posted by Rodgers Bail Bonding Gastonia on Tuesday, September 14, 2021

According to ministers at Destiny Church in Gastonia, Danner was a part of the youth ministry and loved to sing.

“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of one of our very own youth members, Nivia Danner, senior pastor David Tucker said. “Nivia was a joyful young lady who had the biggest smile.”

Tucker said the church’s youth leaders reminded him of how full of personality and life the Danner was.

“Nivia would be sure to enter every church service and youth function with hugs and a big smile,” he said. “Anytime there was a special event, she made sure to ask how she could help. She was truly an encouragement to our youth leaders, and to all who came in contact with her.”

Please join us in praying for the family of Nivia Danner, our youth ministry, our church family, and our community as we...

Posted by Destiny Church on Tuesday, September 14, 2021

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