A Tennessee mother whose baby girl was paralyzed in a gang-related drive-by shooting was fatally shot just months before she was to testify against her daughter's alleged shooter.
Bianca Horton, 26, was found shot dead on a Chattanooga street early Wednesday morning. Police are investigating whether Horton, a mother of four, was the target of a gang hit linked to the trial of Cortez Sims, the suspect charged with the shooting that left her now-2-year-old daughter, Zoey Duncan, paralyzed, the Chattanooga Free Times Press reports.
"This one is very painful for the Police Department," Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher told the Free Times Press.
On Jan. 7, 2015, police were called to the apartment at the College Hill Courts public housing complex after reports of a shooting. Police arrived to find that four people had been shot. "Talitha Bowman, 20, was dead after being shot through the heart, an 18-year-old man was shot in the chest and critically wounded, and Horton had sustained a gunshot wound to the arm," according to the Free Times Press.
Zoey had also been hit and was bleeding through a towel that was wrapped around her. Quick-thinking officers rushed the then-1-year-old to the hospital in a patrol car, opting not to wait for EMTs. The move proved lifesaving—Zoey underwent emergency surgery—but the little girl was paralyzed from the chest down.
"If it wasn’t for them, Zoey may not be here," Horton told WRCB last year.
Officers later arrested and charged the then-17-year-old Sims with first-degree murder. Horton was scheduled to testify against Sims, who was charged as an adult, at his trial, which begins Sept. 27.
"There is no such thing as witness protection for local crimes; there's maybe some confusion about that," Fletcher told WRCB.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Horton’s family, which includes her four children.
"Today I received devastating news that Bianca Horton was found dead," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said in a statement. "This loss of life is a loss to our entire community. Ms. Horton has been through so much. Her family and her daughter deserve our support and justice."