EXPOSITION PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Heartbroken family members and friends gathered at a vigil on Saturday evening to remember a 16-year-old girl who was fatally stabbed earlier this week in Exposition Park.
The fatal attack occurred in mid-afternoon Monday on a sidewalk where a makeshift memorial was later created by mourners, one of whom described La'shantee Kirkpatrick as a "young lady who had so much to give."
"I want people to know that children 16 years old shouldn't have to die like this or be murdered like this," said La'shantee's grandmother Sheila Rogers.
The Crenshaw High School track-and-field athlete was stabbed in the chest during an altercation near the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.
"We want to know just what happened," said Dominque Johnson, the victim's cousin. "Like why wasn't she at school? Why wasn't she encouraged to go? Why was she here? Why was she left alone with a stranger?
"And why was she left in the dirt?"
Family members said La'shantee had recently started dating a 23-year-old man who encouraged her to make bad choices. They said they believe when he got into an altercation with a man and woman, La'shantee jumped in to defend him.
The two suspects were arrested, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
"My baby, she ran track," said the girl's mother, Shanta La'vean Williams. "She was fast. I thought my baby was going to take me to the Olympics -- I am so serious."
A GoFundMe page has been created to help La'shantee's family pay for funeral expenses.
Candlelight vigil honors 16-year-old girl fatally stabbed in Exposition Park