A cheerleader who graduated from high school less than a month ago was shot dead on her New Jersey street during an apparent robbery while she was walking home from Dunkin' Donuts, prosecutors and friends of the victim said.
Amber Wilson, 18, was walking to her Hussa Street home in Linden with a friend just before midnight Tuesday when an unknown number of men approached them, said officials.
Wilson was robbed; an argument ensued and Wilson was shot, prosecutors said. She died at the scene.
Hector Berdugo, who said the shooting took place in front of his driveway, told NBC 4 New York Wilson's friend started screaming and calling for help. Other neighbors described hearing what sounded like fireworks -- and then seeing a young woman immobile on the ground.
"We hope they apprehend the person that did this, this senseless loss of life," Wilson's father Norman Duncan told NBC 4 New York as he held his sobbing wife, who was Wilson's stepmother, at a vigil Tuesday evening near where the teen was gunned down.
Hundreds of Wilson's classmates, cheerleading teammates and friends came to honor how she lived her short life, paying tribute to her spirit and her smile.
"Amber, you were a light of this city, the cheerleading team, you were such a shining star," said a friend as she cried.
Friends said Wilson graduated from Linden High School on June 22 and that she was an active member of her school community, serving as co-captain of the cheerleading team, participating on the dance squad and helping raise money for prom.
Other friends spoke about Wilson's aspirations for the future, saying she wanted to be a police officer. They called her death a shock to the community.
It wasn't long before tears at the vigil turned to cries for justice.
"We know someone knows something," said one woman who attended the vigil. "The person who did this is a coward. He is a punk. He had to use a gun on a harmless young child."
Fliers advertising a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest were distributed.
No arrests have been made and it wasn't immediately clear how many suspects police may be seeking.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Union County Crime Stoppers at (908) 654-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted online at www.uctip.org.
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