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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
Tangela Owens said goodbye to her 17-year-old daughter on Friday.
She was an innocent bystander at a pre-prom party last week when someone started shooting.
"Her life was stolen. It was stolen from her, stolen from me," said Tangela Owens.
Tonquinisha McKinley planned to take pictures with her cousin Ta'Marea Steward who was heading to the prom last Thursday. In fact, the last picture the family has of Tonquinisha was taken with her cousin just before she was shot and killed.
"I'm still angry and bitter. I forgive them, I really do, but it still will not bring my daughter back," said Tangela Owens.
Hundreds packed into Word of Faith church in Saginaw for Tonquinisha's funeral on Friday. Tonquinisha's family never imagined one of the suspects in her murder would also be inside the church.
"I looked over, and I was just like, just lost for words for a minute, and I just started shouting, 'Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord, you know, that she can finally have some type of justice,'" said Tiffany Owens, Tonquinisha's aunt.
She said she witnessed police quietly remove a man from the funeral. Police identified that man as Evellis McGee and said he is suspected in the pre-prom shooting.
"It must have been meant for me not to see, because I didn't see it," said Tangela Owens.
The arrest came from a tip from somebody who told police McGee was at the church.
"It's huge, and it just shows that the citizens are tired, and that they want this crime to stop, and it's them that's going to make the difference," said Michigan State police Lt. Brian Cole.
Cole said citizens deserve praise. Tips like this are exactly what investigators need.
"As long as they continue to give us information, we're going to work hard to get these guys off the streets," said Cole.
And that's something everybody wants.
"I commend all the people who came and spoke out too, people who spoke out what they saw when it happened, people giving police names. I'm happy about all of that, because it has to stop. It needs to," said Tangela Owens.
Tonquinisha's family has already been through a lot. In another twist in this bizarre story, Tiffany Owens is the mother of T.J. Steward, and Ta'Marea Steward is T.J. Steward's sister. He was the 12-year old killed in a drive-by shooting while in his grandfather's home last June, and the family said both T.J. Steward and Tonquinisha McKinley were close.
On Friday, family members told TV5 they're happy one suspect is in jail. Michigan State Police and the Saginaw Police Department tell TV5 they are working diligently on this case to bring the suspects to justice. Detectives continue to follow up on all leads.
If you have information, call anonymously 1(800)422-JAIL.
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