Jamahri Sydnor spoke with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader and an eloquence beyond her years.
Whether the event was ordinary or exceptional, the 17-year-old approached it with unbridled energy and a broad smile. She jumped for joy for classmates who passed an exam or had been accepted to college. She convinced a discouraged friend to stay in school and led an impromptu dance aboard a sightseeing boat around Manhattan.
She was so excited about her future and heading to Florida A&M University in about 10 days that she posted a copy of her acceptance letter on Twitter.
A single bullet ended her plans.
Sydnor died Saturday, two days after she was shot in the head by a stray bullet fired about 3:30 p.m. Thursday as she drove along a street in a Northeast Washington neighborhood.
Police said she remained on life support until Saturday, a difficult state for her friends to comprehend as they recalled her upbeat demeanor. “There was never a day I saw her she didn’t have a smile on her face,” said Patrice Arrington, the college and career coordinator at her school, Woodrow Wilson High in Northwest.
Arrington said, “Even if there was something going on in her life, she never let anyone see that.”
Sydnor was also there for friends in need. “She would be the person you looked for if you were having a bad day,” said her friend since grade school, Timia Hargrove, 17.
Sydnor was shot in a car in the 1400 block of Saratoga Ave NE as she drove a younger relative home.
A police report says two shooters emerged from bushes where they’d been hiding and opened fire in broad daylight on a group across the street. A single bullet hit Sydnor just as she passed. A bystander, who had stepped out from an apartment building, was struck in the buttocks.