The daughter of Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay was following in her father’s fast footsteps before she was struck down and killed by a stray bullet early Sunday outside a Kentucky eatery.
Fifteen-year-old Trinity Gay, herself a rising track star, was innocently hanging out with friends when she was randomly shot in the neck outside a barbecue spot in Lexington, police said.
“She was so innocent, she was so innocent,” her mother, Shoshana Boyd, told the Daily News in a tearful interview.
“I just want people to stop shooting and realize who they’re hurting. It’s just random. They don’t understand, they don’t understand who they’re hurting.”
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Boyd said her daughter wanted to become a surgeon — but also hoped to match the athletic glory of her famous father.
“I should never have to bury my child,” Boyd said. “She wanted to be the fastest woman in the world, and they took that away from her.”
Before she was shot at about 4 a.m., Trinity nearly live-tweeted her own death, posting a note about gunfire at the late-night eatery Cook Out.
Trinity appeared to reference the restaurant in her final tweet, writing right before 3 a.m., “Why is cookout fat.”
Police said people in two cars exchanged gunfire outside the restaurant. Trinity was not in either car, and her mother said she was out with friends.
A suspect, Dvonta Middlebrooks, 21, was arrested and charged with wanton endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, police said. Cops said he fired multiple shots at the time of the incident. It was unclear whether they suspect him of firing the fatal bullet.
Another man questioned by police has not been charged.
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Police also found a Dodge Charger that witnesses said was involved in the shooting. A search for the second car was ongoing.
Gun control advocates said Trinity’s death was more evidence of America’s weapons epidemic.
“My heart aches for Trinity’s family, friends and all of Lexington,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“This is another example of the senseless gun violence that kills 91 Americans every day and injures hundreds more. This is not the kind of America we want to live in. Teenagers should be able to safely hang out with their friends without the risk of being shot and killed. And no parent should have to bury a child killed by gun violence.”
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But Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin — a pro-gun Republican who has spoken at National Rifle Association events — blamed the shooting on a “crumbling culture.”
“A 15 year old is dead … This senseless tragedy is one more sad example of a crumbling culture … Truly heartbreaking!” the Republican governor tweeted.
The NRA did not return requests for comment.
Trinity was a top sprinter at Lafayette High School, the same high school where her father blazed a trail before becoming a four-time U.S. champion in the 100 meters and representing Team USA in three Summer Olympics.
His career was stained after he tested positive for steroids in 2013, and had to forfeit a silver medal from the 2012 London Games. But his daughter vowed to make up for it with her own honors.
“When her dad got disqualified, her text to him was, ‘Daddy, it’s OK, I’m gonna get the gold for you,” her grandmother Daisy Lowe told The News.
“There was no doubt in our minds that was going to happen,” Lowe said. “Not only did we get cheated, the world got cheated.”
Trinity came in fourth in last year’s girls 100-meters state championship, where she competed against older runners.
Lowe said Trinity visited her father in Florida just last week, on her fall break.
Tyson Gay rushed from his suburban Orlando home to Lexington after hearing the heartbreaking news.
“She didn’t make it,” he told WLEX soon after her death. “It’s so crazy. I have no idea what happened.”
His daughter’s death sparked an online outcry that was fit for an all-star athlete.
“Sending our thoughts & prayers to @TysonLGay & his loved ones as they mourn the tragic & senseless loss of his daughter, Trinity,” USA Track & Field tweeted.
“Heavy heart today for Tyson Gay and his family,” Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones wrote.
Trinity’s coach, Crystal Washington, remembered her as a popular girl and good student.
“The kids were really close with her,” Washington told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We’ve got to do something.”
“Our hearts are broken this morning over the loss of Trinity to this tragic and senseless act of violence,” Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk said in a statement.