Erneisha Barnes, 19, became the latest victim of gun violence in Baton Rouge on Thursday night when someone shot into a vehicle, striking Barnes and ultimately ending the life of a young woman described by her family as funny and outgoing — the effusively loving mother of her 4-year-old daughter.
Police responded to the 4800 block of Gus Young Avenue around 10:15 p.m. in response to reports of a shooting, Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely said in a news release Friday morning.
The shooter fired several times from inside a Chevy Trailblazer into another vehicle where Barnes was sitting in the passenger seat, McKneely said. Barnes was taken to the hospital and later died.
Barnes’ mother, Patricia Bickham, said Friday afternoon that Barnes was riding in the car while her best friend drove and they stopped at Ragusa’s Deli, a store on Gus Young Avenue frequented by the man Barnes’ friend had recently been seeing.
Bickham said she wasn’t sure exactly what happened next — how her daughter ended up dead — but knew the incident involved that man and possibly also his relatives or friends. Whatever the exact circumstances, Bickham said her daughter apparently was caught in the crossfire during a dispute that didn’t directly concern her.
Based on speaking with the woman who was driving, Bickham described her daughter calling police before dropping the phone and slumping down into the passenger seat as “she began to leave us.”
Sitting at her kitchen table Friday afternoon, Bickham stared blankly ahead and recalled the events of Thursday night. She said she continues to operate under a sense of shock and disbelief.
“It hasn’t really dawned on me yet,” she said. “I feel numb, like this can’t be real. … I have to stay strong because I’ve got the baby and (my) other kids. My heart is really heavy but I try to keep smiling, to keep from crying.”
Bickham said the family still hadn't told Barnes’ 4-year-old daughter, Chloe Barnes, about what happened. Chloe was with her godparents for now but would come back home soon, Bickham said. Barnes and her daughter both lived with Bickham at their family's house in a quiet subdivision northeast of the Baton Rouge airport.
Bickham described her daughter — the middle child of five siblings — as very lovable and outgoing, someone who always made you laugh and loved to rap and dance. Kids gravitated toward her, and “she loved (Chloe) with all her heart,” Bickham said.
Barnes had a job interview scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday morning. “She was all excited about that interview, just got new clothes for it and everything,” Bickham said. “I don’t know why they went out there last night. … I didn't see any of this coming."
Police said the shooting remains under investigation. Anyone with information on this incident is urged to contact the Violent Crimes Unit at 389-4869 or Crimes Stoppers at 344-7867.