‘It’s like it just hits you, and you break’: Family of teen murder victim calls for change as homicides increase

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As homicide numbers rise in Las Vegas, 8 News Now spoke with Metro Police to see why the figures have come close to doubling since this time last year. 

Those affected said they want the troubling trend to stop, including the family of a Las Vegas teenager, who was shot and killed earlier this year. 

A beaming light to those who loved her, Nakaila Daniels lost her life before it could ever truly start. 

“She just shined in everyone’s life,” Daniels’ godmother, Kathy Lafleur, said. 

The 17-year-old was shot and killed after an argument outside a northeast valley apartment. Officers discovered her body on Feb. 2. 

“Trying to realize that life is going to go on,”  Johneshia Daniels, Nakaila’s mother, shared. “But I’m missing a real part of me.”

Family members also described the moment the girl’s mother received the call that changed everything. 

“The scream that came out my child’s mouth,” Ronnette Cromwell, Nakaila’s grandmother, recalled. “She was like, ‘Mama, they said my baby is dead.'”

Mero Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said this troubling increase in homicides started halfway through 2020. 

“When somebody has had a loved one that was killed, there is nothing you can tell them that is going to make them OK or make it any easier,” Spencer said of grieving families.

Officers responded to 31 murders between January and April 2021. This is compared to just 19 at the same time last year. That’s a 63% increase. 

For a look at Metro’s latest homicide statistics, click here.

“I can tell you obviously, we think COVID is obviously playing some impact,” Spencer explained. “You have people, there’s some unemployment stress, and the financial stress that goes along with that.”

He told 8 News Now the pandemic has pushed many over the edge, but the leading cause of death is still domestic violence. 

“Any type of assistance that someone could get that would lessen the outcome of someone getting to batter or kill them, that is something they need to look into,” Spencer said.

The lieutenant mentioned what he called another community concern: young people getting their hands on guns. 

“There are a lot of gun owners that are not securing their firearms properly,” Spencer shared. “Kids are getting them from car burglaries, getting them from residential burglaries.”

This is where Nakaila’s family wants to push for change. 

“There are too many guns out there,” Lafleur said, “and that is something that people don’t want to address.”

They know no amount of time or grief will bring her back, but they hope the courage to share this story will help others understand Nakaila was more than just a number. 

To her family, she was a treasure, and she will never be forgotten. 

“Just wondering why,” Nakaila’s mother questioned. “Why was she there? And how did it escalate to something this drastic?”

“It’s just something that we deal with daily,” Cromwell lamented. “No matter what, it’s like it just hits you, and you break.”

Spencer said Metro homicide detectives solve around 97% of cases, which is well above the national average. 

He added while crime did spike from 2019 to 2021, cases are still below what they were in 2018. 

If you or someone you know is involved in a domestic violence situation, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or visit their website. For a list of domestic violence services in Nevada, click here.

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