Memory of 9-year-old girl killed by gang violence lives on through scholarships and new mural

Local News

FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – The memory of 9-year-old Janessa Ramirez lived on Wednesday when a mural of her was unveiled and scholarships were handed out in her honor.

In 2015, she was caught in the crossfire of gang violence and killed by a stray bullet.

“The incident that occurred with Janessa Ramirez, quite frankly, shocked the conscience of Fresno,” Mayor Jerry Dyer said.

At the time Ramirez was gunned down, Dyer was chief of police and she was a 4th grader at Central Unified School District’s Steinbeck Elementary.

She was standing in front of a laundromat with her mother Stacey Gonzales, when she was killed.

But her legacy is living on. Gonzales watched as seven seniors received the $2,500 ‘Janessa Ramirez Scholarship.’ This is the 5th year the scholarship has been awarded.

“I couldn’t see Janessa do this. She didn’t get to graduate. So to know these children are honoring her, it’s like, well thank you, then there’s a little piece of Janessa in each one of them,” Gonzales said.

The Foundation for Central Schools also unveiled a mural of Janessa Wednesday painted on the Granville-Teague Community Resource Center.

The art is meant to highlight her life and raise awareness of the effects of gang violence.

Dyer said her death bridged gaps like he’s never seen.

“The entire 18 years as Police Chief I had not seen the community come together as they did in this fashion — where you have gang members and community members and police officers all holding hands at a candlelight vigil,” he said.

Gonzales said the painting is a fitting tribute to her daughter.

“It says ‘Forever 9.’ She was 9-years-old so we’re going to remember that, and then she liked to read her bibles, so there’s a bible there, and her favorite color everywhere purple and butterflies. So it’s just totally Janessa like she’s here. So it’s beautiful,” she said.

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