Michigan teen Destini Cunliffe died three days after she was shot while sitting in a truck, say police

By KC Baker
January 19, 2021 01:45 PM
Destini Cunliffe
Destini Cunliffe
| Credit: Destini Cunliffe/Instagram

A Michigan family is mourning the loss of a teenager who was shot and killed when two men allegedly sprayed the truck she was riding in with bullets, say police.

On Wednesday, Destini Cunliffe, 18, of Greenville, was shot in a truck outside of a home in Evergreen Township near Stanton, Michigan State Police said in a news release, WOODTV reports.

Cunliffe died of her wounds on Saturday, MSP West said in a Twitter post.

The teen's parents and two sisters are devastated. "They are speechless," Cunliffe's godmother Shauna LaFave said, WOODTV reports. "They're mourning along with everyone in this community. They want justice for her. I don't know how our family is going to heal from this. I don't.

"She's got two little sisters that are no longer going to be able to play with her in the snow and make snow angels," she said. "[She's] not going to be there for all of their dance recitals and softball and all those important things."

The incident came to light at about 1:50 a.m., when police were called to Ann and Janet Streets in response to a report about shots fired outside of a residence.

Officers found Cunliffe, who had rolled out of the truck when it was fleeing the scene, lying in a ditch and bleeding from the back of her head, Michigan State Police Lakeview Post Det. Brian Siemen told the Daily News of Michigan.

A 15-year-old girl, whose identity has not been made public because she is a minor and who was also in the truck, sustained non-life-threatening injuries, WOODTV and the Daily News report.

Two men — Kevin Bartz, 23, of Cedar Springs, and Nicholas Bauer, 17, of Stanton — were arrested in connection with the shooting, a spokesperson for the MSP tells PEOPLE.

They are each charged with two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and two counts of felony firearms.

MSP says murder charges are likely forthcoming.

Both men were arraigned in Montcalm County District Court on Thursday.  

They are each being held on $500,000 bond.

They did not enter pleas. Their public defender did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

More suspects might be arrested in connection with the case, Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause told the Daily News.

On the night of the shooting, Cunliffe, the 15-year-old girl and possibly three others drove to the address to buy drugs from someone at the home in Evergreen Township, Siemen told the Daily News.

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As police continue to investigate, Cunliffe's family is mourning the loss of the teen whose organs were donated after her death.

"Five people will be able to live and carry on and hopefully create happy memories just like she did because she was an organ donor," LaFave said.

"Her heart will still beat. Someone will breathe and run and play because of her." 

A GoFundMe has been set up to help defray funeral costs.

MSP are still looking for other suspects who may have been involved in the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call MSP's Lakeview Post at 989.352.8444.