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Friends, family remember ‘infectious smile,’ huge personality of 14-year-old killed in Gastonia shooting

A celebration of life service was held Sunday for Nivia Danner. Her friends and family said she loved people, had a huge personality, and had a real talent for singing.
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:27 AM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) – A 14-year-old who was shot and killed last week in Gaston County has been laid to rest.

A celebration of life service was held Sunday for Nivia Danner. Her friends and family said she loved people, had a huge personality, and had a real talent for singing.

“You didn’t have to know Nivia well to see the brightness in her face that illuminated a room, her infectious smile that intensively made you want to smile back,” said the youth minister at Destiny Church.

The celebration also included cellphone video of Danner singing, the girl’s grandfather reciting a poem he said God delivered to him in the past week, and songs from the church’s praise choir.

The church was fully for the service, with many young teens in attendance to remember their friend.

According to authorities, the shooting happened at Rodgers Bail Bonding on North Chester Street in Gastonia on Sept. 14. Gastonia police said the initial call was for a medical emergency.

Related coverage:

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

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

Responding officers said they found 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 19-year-old Santonio Azanier 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.

Eskridge was arrested Sept. 15 and charged with second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.

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