Sister of 13-year-old girl killed in Burien pleads for help to find shooter

BURIEN, Wash. – It’s been two days since two teenage girls were shot and killed near an apartment complex in Burien.

The King County Sheriff’s Office still hasn't arrested anyone in connection with the shooting.  That’s why one of the victim’s sisters has strong words for whoever killed her little sister and her sister's friend.

Elizabeth Juarez, 13. (Photo courtesy of family)

We spoke with Maria Juarez, the older sister of 13-year-old Elizabeth Juarez. Elizabeth was shot and killed alongside her friend, 19-year-old Eveona Cortez, on Wednesday night.

Maria says whoever shot them is a coward and she wants anyone who might’ve seen something to come forward.

“They were like sisters. Every time I would go pick up my sister, 'oh Eveona this', 'oh Eveona came to visit me,'" said Maria.

When Maria describes Elizabeth, her eyes light up as a smile spreads across her face.

“She was understanding. She was amazing,” Maria said.

And she describes 19-year-old Eveona Cortez's personality.

“She’s more laid back, more chill, but if she got to know you, she was real cool,” Maria said.

Elizabeth and Eveona were united in friendship and were side-by-side on that fatal night when King County sheriff’s deputies say some kind of an altercation happened and the two teens were shot and killed.

“They told us that it was going to be hard and that she might not make it and my heart broke,” Maria said.

Both died at Harborview Medical Center.

Elizabeth’s death robbed Maria’s daughter and unborn child from the chance to grow up with one of their aunts.

“She loved Melanie (Maria's daughter) and this baby before they even came into this world,” Maria said.

In just two weeks, Maria is expected to give birth without Elizabeth by her side.  All she will have left is a memory of Elizabeth as a cautionary tale for her two daughters.

“All I can do is tell Elizabeth’s story. You don’t want to end up like that, young and not be able to be here with your family,” Maria said.

Maria added that Elizabeth struggled to stay on the right track and got involved with gang members.

“Her being affiliated and being involved with all that made her feel like she had to be tougher, like she had to do things that we wouldn’t do,” Maria said.

A pull into the street life that ended up taking her life.  A candlelight vigil the night after Elizabeth and Eveona died brought out dozens of people to pay their respects.

“There were so many people that I not even knew. I was like, a 13-year-old did this?  She met people, she changed this many people’s lives. These people loved her,” Maria said.

Now she’s asking those same people to show their love and give information to the police.

“Do it for them. They need it. Their families are looking for answers,” Maria said.

Maria has a message to whoever pulled the trigger.

“A coward. You’re a coward. That’s all I can think of.  A 13-year-old.  She was too strong for you? You saw her as a big threat. A little, skinny 13-year-old."

But Maria says she won’t focus on how Elizabeth died or the troubles she faced but only the love she gave unconditionally.

“Every time she saw us, she made sure she’d tell us she loved us,” Maria said.

Maria says nearly everyone in Elizabeth’s family tried to help her get back on the right track.  Her sister says even her teachers and school principal tried to get her to focus on her studies and set positive goals.

Burien city leaders know people are preying on young children by trying to get them involved in gangs, drugs and other criminal behavior.  That’s why Burien has some community groups with programs for teens.

“We have a Friday night event for teens that I believe one of our victims was a part of our program. We reach out and we take steps to find opportunities for youth to help and we have more work to do,” said Burien City Manager Brian Wilson.

The King County Sheriff’s Office says there were at least 10 to 15 people outside during the shooting.  If you know something, you can leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or use the P3Tips App.