HOUSTON — Like she did most days, 16-year-old Diamond Alvarez walked her family's dog Peanut in her southwest Houston neighborhood on Tuesday evening.
Since it was already dark, her mother, Anna Machado, told her to only stay out 20 minutes and then return home. But Diamond never came back as she was fatally shot around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday a couple of blocks away on the side of a street near a grassy field where all the neighborhood children play. Her family found her body by the green space after Peanut ran home without Diamond. Machado tried to revive her daughter by performing CPR, but it was too late.
"I tried and I tried and I tried. When I (saw) there was nothing else I could do, I started telling her how much I love her and that I'm always here," Machado said.
Houston police on Thursday continued looking for who shot Diamond multiple times. Police say that witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots and then the sound of tires squealing as a possibly dark vehicle fled the scene. Investigators have not commented on a possible motive for the shooting.
Machado said when her brother heard the gunshots, she twice phoned Diamond, but the calls went straight to voicemail.
When Peanut "came by himself, I already knew something was wrong. I already knew my baby wasn't OK," Machado said.
Thursday afternoon, Machado and other family members and friends gathered at a makeshift memorial with candles, stuffed animals and balloons set up near where her body was found and fondly remembered Diamond as a happy person who worked hard, loved school and dreamed of being a beautician one day.
"She was working really hard in school to graduate. And she was getting there," Machado said of her daughter, who was a sophomore in high school. "And she didn't get to graduate. She didn't get her diploma. She didn't get to be a mother, wedding, kids, nothing."
Diamond's uncle, Roberto Mejia, described her as an outgoing person who was a hard worker and was willing to try new things.
"She was known for having lashes," Mejia said.
"Her big lashes," Machado said as she laughed in a moment of levity.
Mejia said Diamond brought joy to everyone she met.
"We just can't believe that something so horrible would happen to a sweet person like that. She didn't deserve that. Nobody does, especially not a young lady that's 16 years old. So, we just want justice and whoever is responsible to be brought to justice," Mejia said.
Diamond's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for her funeral expenses.
Machado said Diamond's siblings were dealing with her death as best they could but that her 14-year-old brother was having a hard time as he was the person who first found her body.
"He just wants to be strong. He doesn't want to cry," she said.
Diamond's family remained hopeful that police would find her killer.
"If someone knows, come out and speak up. Who would want someone to be out there like that, that dangerous?" she said. "I'm not getting my daughter back. But at least you know he'll pay."
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70