COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The friends of a Columbus teenager who was shot and killed Monday night are planning to honor her later this week during a candlelight vigil.
“She was smart, she was pretty, she was funny,” Gretchen Hazlett, 17, said as she talked about her best friend since second grade, Jayce O’Neal, 17, who was shot to death in west Columbus.
Her dad, Bryan Hazlett, remembered O’Neal who he said spent lots of time with the family over the years.
“She was a beautiful little girl and she didn’t deserve this," he said. “She said she always looked to me as a father figure, always coming around, asking for advice.”
Gretchen Hazlett told ABC 6/FOX 28 O’Neal had texted her Monday night letting her know she wanted to come over and see her newborn son.
“She asked me if she could come over. I told her I would be home in about 20 minutes and then she stopped responding,” Hazlett said.
A short time later she learned her long-time friend had died from a gunshot wound.
“I just didn’t think this would happen to her,” Hazlett said. “She was not that type of person.”
Columbus Police have charged Marizah Thomas, 16, in connection with O’Neal’s death. Investigators said Thomas shot and killed O’Neal after they got into a fight at Thomas’ home on Ridgebury Drive in Columbus.
Gretchen said the three of them had all been friends at one point.
“We we’re friends a while ago,” Hazlett said. “But we stopped talking after Jayce had problems with her in the previous weeks.”
Friends are now planning to remember O’Neal Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the tennis courts at Hilliard Bradley High School on Walker Road.
Hazlett said O’Neal played tennis at the courts when she attended Hilliard Bradley before moving outside the Hilliard school district a few years ago.
“Just a joy to be around,” Hazlett said. “Bubbly, always had a smile, always had a joke."
She also said guns should be avoided by young people.
"People need to stay away from the guns," she said. "Young people need to stay away from the guns, it’s just not worth it.”
ABC 6/FOX 28 will continue to follow this story.