"She just wanted to go out with her boyfriend and enjoy the New Year," said Nakeysha McGregor, as she struggled with the loss of her oldest child, Italia McGregor.
Just after 2 a.m. on New Year's Day, Italia was shot in the parking lot of the Five Nine Bar and Lounge on S. Wilcrest. Her boyfriend and another man were wounded.
According to Houston police, they had just left the club when a verbal fight turned physical and two men pulled out guns and started firing.
Investigators released security images of the suspects, who remain at large. Italia died in the parking lot.
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"Every day it doesn't get easier. It gets harder," said her mother. "She was just starting her life."
The 24-year-old had three children, two boys and a girl. She had a hair braiding business. Her family proudly shared videos of her work.
Italia was from the small town of Bellville, 65 miles from Houston. But in the big city, she became the first murder victim of 2022 after two years of a rise in murders.
In 2019, there were 277 murders. In 2020, it went up to 400, and 2021 ended with 474 murders. So far in 2022, there have been three murders in Houston city limits.
"She was just a young lady going out, trying to enjoy the new year, because that's what we used to do. We could go out and enjoy it. Why do you have to be scared?" asked Nakeysha.
Her mother struggles with why it happened. She yearns for justice, but knows the reality for her and Italia's young children.
"My daughter's gone and she'll never come back. No matter if they catch them, I'll never get her back," she said. "Her kids will never get her back. She has a baby who will never know her."
The family shared a GoFundMe link to help the children she leaves behind.
Witnesses told police the suspects left in a white Dodge Charger. Anyone with information is urged to contact Houston Police Homicide Division at (713) 308-3600 or Houston Crime Stoppers.
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Westside officers are at a shooting scene 11700 S. Wilcrest. Adult male transported to the hospital, adult female deceased at the scene. 202 pic.twitter.com/blu8h3enTv— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) January 1, 2022