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Mother wants killer to pay for daughter's death

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BATON ROUGE - Lashuntae Benton's mother made the trip to Baton Rouge from Lake Charles Monday night to pick up her daughter's car.

Benton, 19, and and Annette January, 19, were caught in the crossfire Saturday in part of Baton Rouge where crimes like this aren't common, which is making it hard for Teresa Tillman to cope with the loss.

"Hell..." she told News 2's Brett Buffington when asked what the last 48 hours have been like. "Hell to say the least."

Tillman came face to face with every parents worst fear. She's still comprehending the events that transpired over the weekend, and the wound from losing her daughter is still fresh.

She describes what it was like to speak with the detective on the phone Sunday morning.

"I told him what he wanted, and he said he needed to talk to me," Tillman explains. "I told him I didn't want him to tell me nothing."

Her daughter was a trainer for the Southern Track and Field team. Benton was the middle child, with two brothers. Her mom says she had a sweet soul that never met a stranger.

"Outgoing, beautiful, athletic, generous, a great child," Tillman says. "She just wanted to get an education."

Benton and January were among several members of the SU track team at The Cottages apartment complex on Ben Hur Drive early Sunday morning, when Baton Rouge Police believe two men started shooting.

Monday the school's Interim Athletic Director pointed out the unusual location where the shooting happened.

"In my estimation, these two young ladies made pretty good decision. They weren't somewhere they weren't supposed to be," Roman Banks says. "They weren't somewhere we as adults would consider a bad place. I think they were trying to do the right things."

Monday night, Tillman had a message for her daughter's killer.

"I want whoever did this to my child to pay for it," she says through tears. "She lost her life, her freedom. She'll never be herself."

January's mother told News 2 her daughter died trying to save Benton and says she's comforted to know, her daughter died a hero.

"You gave you life trying to save somebody else's," Dawn January says. "That's what God wants us to do".

Southern students were reeling when they returned to class Monday. Benton and January's deaths are hitting the athletic community particularly hard.

"Shante was like my right hand, Southern Tight End Dillon Beard says. "During the summer I caught a full body camp, and she was the only person who came to the hospital supporting me, and we had a lot of conversations; one on one time."

One of the men police say opened fire at the apartment complex is also a Southern student. Ernest Felton is locked up on a $90 thousand bond. He's charged with attempted murder, but ballistics tests are being done to determine if bullets fired from his gun killed either girl.

The man police say Felton exchanged gunfire with was hit and is still recovering. It's unclear if he'll face any charges.

A candlelight vigil for Benton and and January will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the courtyard of Southern's Student Union.


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