Tequila Forshee would have turned 18 Monday.
She’d be in her senior year of high school. She’d be looking forward to college. She’d be planning for her prom.
But Tequila’s dreams were cut short five years ago when her grandmother’s Miami Gardens home was sprayed by bullets as she was getting her hair braided on the night before the first day of school. Tequila died from a gunshot wound to the head. She was set to start seventh grade at Carol City Middle School.
“I looked forward to her graduation, her prom, buying her first car,” said Glenn Forshee, 38, about his daughter.
On Monday, Forshee said the pain of losing his daughter who loved puzzles and who slept with her Hello Kitty stuffed animal every night is still raw — especially since police have not found her killer.
“I remember everything from the wrinkles on her toes to the features on her face. That never fades away,” he said. “I would want people to put themselves in my shoes as a father. Help us heal.”
About two dozen family members and police and city officials gathered Monday in Lester B. Brown Park in Miami Gardens to mark what would have been the 18th birthday of Tequila, known to her family and friends as “Te-Te.”
Dressed in rainbow T-shirts that read “Happy Birthday Te-Te, princess of the Gardens,” Tequila’s siblings read a poem in her memory and decorated a memorial built in the park after her death with flowers and birthday balloons.
“Even though I left this world to be accepted into heaven I’ll forever be in your heart,” her 15-year-old sister, Crystal, read from a poem.
When describing his sister, Glenn, 13, who shares a first name with his dad, said Tequila was always trying to do things for others.
“She had to help you to the point my daddy said, ‘Stop helping,’” said her brother.
Tequila’s family hopes the gathering will spur the public to come forward with information to help Miami Gardens Police solve the murder.
Assistant Chief J. D. Patterson, who would not comment on the open investigation, said it’s important to get the word out.
“We’re hoping that this event generates some interest from the public,” Patterson said. “It’s our desire to close this case as soon as we can.”
It was Aug. 14, 2013, when Tequila sat down in the living room of her grandmother’s home so that her hair could be braided. Her grandmother, Tawanda Brown, had taken the girl home from her beauty salon, Ms. T Worldwide Beauty Salon, inside the Carol City Flea Market, at about 7 p.m.
At about 11 p.m., shots rang out.
In the days after her death, there were memorials and marches and pleas for information. More than 300 people attended the little girl’s funeral. Her dad crowned her a princess as she lay in the child-size casket.
A reward for up to $30,000 was offered for information leading to an arrest. At the time, police said four boys rode up to the house on bicycles and fired into the house. Police and the father believe the shooting may have been gang-related. No one has been charged in the killing.
Mayor Oliver Gilbert on Monday called on the police department to find the culprits for the murder.
“I have a motto with our police department: We don’t have cold cases because I never forget. So as long as we exist as a city they ought to be trying to find out who did this,” Gilbert said. “I will never forget. This city will never forget.”
He told The Herald that anyone with information should not hesitate to come forward, even parents who may suspect their own children.
“Give us a chance to stop them from being a murderer,” Gilbert said.
“Or being murdered,” a policeman next to him chimed in.
Meanwhile, Tequila’s grieving dad wants her to be remembered as a bright young girl who was kind and aspired to be a chef.
“Keep Te-Te in your heart for me,’’ he said.
Anyone with information is urged to call 305-474-1420 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).