Family of A’yanna Allen speaks out on her murder, funeral

Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 8, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — “You have hurt us dearly,” Shirley Robinson said.

The five words summed up the feelings of an entire community Wednesday, especially for the family of A’yanna Allen, a young girl shot and killed while she slept in her bedroom early Sunday morning.

Robinson, asleep beside granddaughter A’yanna, was shot in the leg.

Salisbury Police and the State Bureau of Investigation are working to determine who killed this vibrant, loving Koontz Elementary School student.

Family members who gathered Wednesday after a press conference say they are grateful to Rowan County and the city of Salisbury for offering up a joint $20,000 reward in the crime.

“We loved her so much. Please come forward,” Robinson begged. “Y’all took our baby from us.”

A’yanna’s mother, Shequita Woodberry, said she also appreciates the kind words, condolences and other messages of support.

“I appreciate everything,” she said.

Woodberry immediately added, “Somebody’s gonna tell.”

She said it’s sad that those with knowledge of the crime have to be prompted with money to speak up.

Other family members have told local media they believed the shooting that killed A’yanna was retaliation for a shooting at Firewater restaurant and lounge just hours before.

Investigators have said an argument led to the shooting of 22-year-old Sharod Mathis in the parking lot of Firewater Bar & Lounge just after 1 a.m. Mathis was taken by private vehicle to the hospital, where he later died.

Just three hours later, someone fired into the bedroom where A’yanna and her grandmother slept.

“She was a well-loved child,” said Robinson, balancing on crutches.

She described how A’yanna often “took over” the television to watch Nick Jr. cartoons.

“She was an innocent child,” Robinson said.

“I’m hurt right now. I’m in the darkness right now,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s son, Antonio Allen, A’yanna’s father, was shot and killed Christmas Day in 2009.

“The devil won’t win this battle,” Robinson declared.

At one point, Woodberry was overcome with emotion and turned to the arms of boyfriend Sam Starks. Her mother, April Woodberry, was also on hand.

The family members say they want others to celebrate the life of A’yanna, and they have decided to make her funeral open to the public and media.

The young girl’s funeral will be held Sunday at Gethesemane Missionary Baptist Church, 719 S. Caldwell St. The visitation will take place at 2 p.m. and the funeral will begin at 3 p.m.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.