What to Know
- The mother of a 13-year-old budding basketball star killed by a stray bullet a year ago is now dealing with another tragedy
- Nadine McKenzie's home in Mount Vernon was destroyed in a fire over the weekend; she's desperate to salvage her shrine to her daughter
- Mount Vernon officials say they're doing everything they can to support the still-grieving mother and her family
A mother whose 13-year-old daughter was killed by a stray bullet is facing new losses: Her Westchester home was engulfed in a fire.
Nadine McKenzie was among 12 people displaced by Sunday's blaze at a multi-family house in Mount Vernon. Sunday was the first anniversary of Shamoya McKenzie's burial.
"It was shocking," McKenzie told News 4 Tuesday, recalling her shock when learned of the fire at her home. "I was crying. I was worried about my daughter's pictures, everything that we have for her, to hold onto her forever."
The eighth-grader was shot in the head while riding home from basketball practice in her mother's car Dec. 31, 2016. Prosecutors say the gunman was aiming for a gang rival of his.
Authorities aren't certain what sparked Sunday's blaze but it appears to be accidental. Mayor Richard Thomas says officials saved photos and trophies from Shamoya's room and hope more can be salvaged.
"It was even more of an effort because we knew who it was, we knew what they went through the first time," said Mount Vernon Fire Commissioner Ted Beale. We salvaged whatever we could to try and bring it back for mom, all the emotions, all the keepsakes."
"That's the only thing my concern was," said McKenzie. "Everything else can be replaced. But her stuff cannot be replaced."
"We started a foundation, we lost the computer, all the jerseys, the New York Knicks Jersey, the Liberty jersey," she said.
McKenzie did find a hopeful sign -- a picture of her daughter was still on the refrigerator.
"Yes, this picture survived... with that smile," she said.
Thomas says they are trying to find McKenzie and her family a temporary place to live. Right now, all they have is the clothes on their backs.
"Mount Vernon is rallying to support Nadine and her family," said Thomas, adding that anyone who has donations to offer can bring them to City Hall or the firehouse.
"My pastor cried for me," said McKenzie. "He said, 'How can one person bear so much?' But as I said, I sing a lot and I pray a lot. That's the only thing keeping me alive."