INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nikki Cope spent Mother’s Day mourning the death of her only child.
Her 16-year-old daughter, Nya Mae Cope, was struck by a stray bullet May 3 while they were driving from their Marion home to an Indianapolis restaurant.
The shots were believed to be fired by somebody in a crowd at 38th Street and Arlington Avenue, according to police.
Nikki pulled over and attempted to perform CPR but her daughter’s injuries were fatal.
“We were best friends. Or like sisters,” Nikki told News 8, sitting beside a framed photo of her daughter.
She raised Nya as a devoted single mother, working seven days a week to provide for her and even quitting a job at IndyGo because the commute cut into their mother-daughter time.
She settled on a job as a Marion school bus driver so her work schedule would align with her daughter’s school hours.
The two were inseparable, Nikki said.
“Every activity… [including] skating [and] swimming. If mom wasn’t there, she really didn’t want to be there,” she said.
They drove to Kokomo, Muncie, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and other cities to break up the monotony of quarantine.
Nikki wanted her daughter to graduate and leave Marion “so she could have more opportunities in life,” she said.
She envisioned a future for Nya in Indianapolis and made an effort to explore the city with her.
The senseless tragedy of her death shook their tight-knit Marion community weeks after another child was killed by a stray bullet on the east side of Indianapolis.
Rodgerick Payne Jr., 8, was eating dinner March 31 when a bullet flew into his family’s home in the 3000 block of Tacoma Avenue, striking him in the neck.
Both fatal shootings remained unsolved Monday.
Charles Harrison, an Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition leader, said Payne’s death left him especially shaken; his daughter had gone to school with the 8-year-old’s mother.
“A lot of us are parents,” Harrison said. “You look at those two children and you learn more about them, and it just moves you to action.”
On Monday, the Ten Point Coalition announced $1,000 rewards for information leading to arrests and convictions in the separate cases, made possible by an anonymous donor.
Nikki begged anybody with leads or ties to people with information to come forward.
“[The person or persons responsible for Nya’s death] messed with the wrong mom and there will be justice,” she said.
Anybody with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.