Shooting victim's mother: 'I broke down'
URBANA — Jenyra Reeves marked her 23rd birthday on Tuesday, in an Urbana hospital. She couldn't see the balloons her mother brought to celebrate.
"Her eyes won't open," said Diedra Reeves, 37, of Urbana.
Jenyra, Diedra's oldest daughter, was shot in the head three weeks ago in northwest Urbana. The single bullet that penetrated her left temple caused her to lose her left eye and have seriously compromised vision in the other eye.
Having suffered a traumatic brain injury, her future is uncertain.
Although Jenyra cannot speak, her mother said she communicates by squeezing her hand.
"She can hear. She tries to get up. She'll move her hands and toes," Diedra Reeves said.
Diedra Reeves was 14 when the first of her five children was born. It was in 2006, she said, that the state of Illinois took steps to terminate her parental rights to all of them.
Jenyra was a ward of the Department of Children and Family Services until she was 18, and attended Urbana Middle School, Urbana High School, Champaign Central and Centennial, according to her mother. However, she never graduated and, along the way, gave birth to a son who is now 8 and living with Diedra's aunt in Chicago, her mother said.
Diedra Reeves said her daughter has mental difficulties, and even though they didn't live together, saw each other often.
"I told her she can always come back to me. When you try to tell your kids what they can and can't do in your house and they don't want to respect that, what can you do? Wherever you go, there's going to be rules."
Learning that Jenyra had been shot was stunning, said Diedra Reeves.
"When the police came to me, I broke down. I thought my daughter was gone. He told me she's alive and in critical. They took me to see her. Two to three days later, they had to rush me to the emergency room because I had chest pains. I have been at her bedside since," she said.
Most of Diedra Reeves' extended family is in Chicago, she said, as is Jenyra's father.
"She doesn't bother nobody and the majority of the time stays by herself. She's got friends around here. But they can turn out to be your enemy," Diedra Reeves said.
"She can rap and can sing. She loves music and dancing. She will socialize and talk to you."
As for the person or persons responsible for shooting Jenyra, Diedra doesn't know what to think about their motivation.
"I don't know. I just want them to turn themselves in. She doesn't bother nobody. She stays to herself. I just want somebody to come forward," she said.