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Tampa mother calls for end to violence after 21-year-old daughter killed by gunfire

"It's not fair what you're doing to parents and siblings," LaMaria Smith said.
Savannah Mathis.jpg
Posted at 11:23 PM, Dec 05, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — 21-year-old Savannah Mathis was shot and killed while driving near Julian B. Lane Park, Wednesday night. Her mother, LaMaria Smith, begs for the gun violence to end.

"I mean, when does it stop?" she said.

Police were called to Grace Street and N Delaware Avenue in Tampa just after 8 p.m. where Mathis crashed the vehicle she was driving into a wall after she was hit by gunfire.

Mathis was sent to the hospital in critical condition and died from her injuries. Police say a passenger in the vehicle was also shot and was transported in stable condition.

"She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it cost her, her life," Smith said.

Smith says her daughter was an ambitious young woman. Mathis graduated from Plant High School with a 5.0 GPA and was studying to be a nurse. She had her sights set on The University of Florida after graduating from Hillsborough County Community College, next spring.

"How did this one leave us so soon?" Smith said. "She still had work to do."

Smith will not get to watch her daughter live out her dreams of becoming a doctor. She will miss their family Christmas together and Mathis's planned birthday trip to Atlanta in January.

"It's not fair," Smith said. "I will never see her again. I will never hug her again, and it's...it's hard."

Her dedicated daughter and best friend lost to unintended gun violence, a Tampa Bay trend, Smith says, needs to end before more families are put through her pain.

"It's not fair what you're doing to us parents and siblings," she said. "She was loved. She was really loved."

Police are asking anyone with useful information in the homicide investigation to call 813-231-6130 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477 to be eligible for a cash reward.

Mathis's family is hosting a candlelight vigil in front of a church near the crash site on Delaware Avenue on Friday, December 10 at 8 p.m.