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Grandmother pleads with teens: ‘Think twice before grabbing guns’

RICHMOND, Va - Shinning gold balloons tied to a chain-link fence in front of a Northside home spell out "Latifah."  Family members of the 18-year old Henrico High School student who was shot and killed outside a Richmond convenience store Saturday said they hung the balloons so community members would see Latifah Hudnall's name and remember her story.

"Everyone says it's going to be alright. I'm not alright," said Hudnall's grandmother Julia Brown.  "I believe this is the worst thing that has ever happened to this family."

Richmond police arrested and charged 17-year old Terrence Whitmire in connection to Hudnall's death.  Whitmire stands charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless handling of a firearm, and juvenile possession of a firearm.

Friends said that Hudnall and Whitmire were acquaintances and both hanging out with a group of friends Saturday night outside of Sabatino's grocery store on Government Road.  Whitmire was messing around the gun when it fired and struck Hudnall in the chest, police sources said.

Brown said she questions why its seems so many young people in the city seem to end up with guns in their hands.

"Hold it and lay it around and then someone accidentally gets shot. I can't understand that," Brown said.  "Get your mind off of a gun. A gun don't make you big, it makes you a murderer."

Hudnall was "bubbly, pleasant, and kind," friends and family said.  Weeks away from graduate high school and obtaining a cosmetology certification from Highland Springs Technical Center, the 18-year old had a passion and talent for highlighting another person's beauty, Brown said.  Tuesday, her family and friends painted their nails to honor the many good memories of Hudall.

"She loved everybody.  When she hit a room, you saw Latifah.  She wasn’t loud, but it was her presence.  It was her presence.  She was a darling person." Brown said.  She added that their family is sharing about their pain in an effort to keep someone else from going through what they are now.

"I hope it makes that next person, that you pick up a gun for any reason, don’t do it.  Don’t do it.  Because this is something I don’t wish on anybody.  I don’t wish this on anybody," Brown said.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized yet.  A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses.