Jelisa Office, 16, was not the kind of teenager who went to parties much, her family members said. She was a straight-A student at Rio Linda High School with plans to go to college.
Still, Office was feeling some new freedom Friday night. She had recently obtained her driver's license and bought a Buick Century with her wages from a fast-food job. On Friday, the high school junior drove to a house party in Del Paso Heights with some girlfriends.
At about 11 p.m., as the party was breaking up, Office was sitting on her car in the 3600 block of Cypress Street when a hail of gunfire peppered the sidewalk. She was struck by two bullets and died at the scene, police said.
Police said the shooting may have stemmed from an exchange of words outside the home earlier in the day. They described Office as an innocent bystander.
Friends and family attending a vigil in her honor Saturday night on Cypress Street said Office was an excellent student.
"She was very outgoing, very inspirational. She's been an honor-roll student all her life," said Devon Pugh, 25, the adopted daughter of Office's grandmother.
"This was her first time out at a party. She just got a car. It's really tragic," Pugh said.
Homicide detectives were still searching for the gunman, said Sacramento Police Sgt. Matt Young. Investigators said that while the shooter may have ties to gangs, Office did not appear to have any gang affiliation.
"She was caught as a victim of this gang violence. The victim just seems to be a really great kid," Young said.
"Usually gang violence is confined to those in the gang culture," Young said. "It's an anomaly when a person who's not engaged in a high-risk lifestyle is a victim."
She "appeared to be doing absolutely nothing wrong," Young said. "She was attending a chaperoned party. ... It's really tragic."
The party began about 8 p.m. at the home of the Rev. Gary Taylor. His daughter was hosting the party, he said.
"No alcohol. No drugs. There were about 50 kids. These were nice kids," he said. "We decided to end the party early. At around 10:50, I was telling everybody to go home."
A stream of high schoolers had poured into the street when shots rang out.
"I heard maybe four or five shots. I was just trying to get the people to safety," Taylor said.
At least 14 rounds were fired, according to police Lt. Gina Haynes.
"Some words were exchanged earlier in the evening," outside the party, Haynes said.
The teens were gathering outside the house, many of them on the sidewalk after the party.
"All of a sudden, somebody came into the crowd and started firing out rounds."
At Saturday night's emotional vigil, attended by about 50 people, Jelisa's father, Jerrold Office, knelt on the sidewalk in front of the shrine of stuffed animals and candles surrounding a framed picture of his beaming daughter at a school formal.
Jerrold's twin brother, Jeffrey Office, offered solace in the form of an impromptu sermon after praying with his brother in front of the shrine.
"This is an opportunity for our spirit to grow," he told the crowd. "Today is the day we must choose, because tomorrow is no guarantee. Today is a gift."
To one side of the candles stood Marjae Bolden, 19, who drove to the party with Office. Bolden said she was lying inside the Buick when she heard gunfire.
"I looked up and she was on the ground," Bolden said, shaking with sobs. "She was my best friend, nice, caring."
Family members at the vigil said they couldn't comprehend how an innocent teenage girl could be shot just because she went to a party.
"She was a good kid -- period," said Felicia Johnson, Office's aunt. "She wanted to be a pediatrician and have her own office."
She said Office planned to attend Grambling State University, a historically black college in Louisiana. "You hate to keep them locked up in the house, but this is why we want them to stay in," Johnson said.
Mark Stenberg, who lives five houses across the street from the shooting scene, arrived home from work just before 3 a.m. to discover a squad of police cars in his neighborhood, parts of the street blocked off in yellow tape.
His wife, Sue, called 911 when she was roused from sleep by the sound of gunfire.
Small groups of young people were fleeing down the street, some shrieking, others crying, she said.
There were scores of teens in the front yard of the home and loitering on the street, said Ruben Garcia, who lives across the street from the party.
His family was watching television when the shots erupted. "I told my kids to get down and stay down on the floor."
The home where the party took place was remodeled more than a year ago, when Taylor and his family moved in, Stenberg said.
The new residents painted the home, removed the heaps of trash from the front yard. "They really fixed it up," he said.