Friends mourn shooting victim, hope witnesses will come forward

Valentina Delva, 18, is shown here in a photo from a GoFundMe page set up to help cover her funeral costs. An Indiana State University freshman from Indianapolis, Delva was killed by gunfire early Friday morning while leaving a party that took place in the 300 block of South Sixth Street. She rode in the front passenger seat of a car leaving the party.  

Stacy Navarre and Valentina "Tina" Delva were cousins and best friends who did everything together.

They passed their certified nursing assistant test together, worked at Panera Bread over the summer and hoped to get famous on the TikTok social medial app with their dancing videos. They graduated from Pike High School in Indianapolis and started off as roommates at Indiana State University for a few weeks this semester until Navarre decided not to continue.

"If you knew her, you knew me," Navarre said Monday. 

Delva, 18, an Indiana State University freshman, was killed by gunfire early Friday morning while leaving a large party that took place in the 300 block of South Sixth Street; she rode in the front passenger seat of a car leaving the party. 

Witnesses told police as many as 100 people were at the party at an apartment house when the gunfire occurred. On Friday, more than 50 evidence markers could be seen on the ground in front of the house and in an adjacent parking lot. At least one car in the parking lot had a bullet hole visible.

Terre Haute police continue their investigation.

"I want people to know she really didn't deserve that," Navarre said. "Tina hated violence and gun violence. ... She didn't like looking at guns." She didn't like fights.

Navarre hopes witnesses will cooperate with police so that whoever is responsible for Delva's death will be held accountable.

She'll cherish the memories and good times they shared. Delva "was really goofy — shy at first, but when you got to know her, very outgoing. She was a loving person" who never had problems or drama with others, Navarre said.

Navarre's older sister, Neissa, organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to assist the family with funeral expenses.

The narrative stated, "Tina, that's what some of us called her, was a beautiful, young, kind-hearted girl who was always there for the people she cared and loved. Valentina graduated from Pike High School ... She was a freshman at ISU, majoring in nursing. She wanted to do so much good for the world but didn’t get the chance."

A candlelight vigil/balloon release took place at Pike High School Friday night.

Among those attending the vigil was Laura Pass-Gill, Delva's Health Sciences II teacher last year at Pike High School Career and STEM Center. She had Delva for three hours a day, five days a week, in the nursing assistant class.

"It was a shock to us all," Pass-Gill said. On Friday morning, she had several notifications on her phone. "I keep in close contact with all my students. They text and call me always."

Delva was one who "always called and kept me updated on what she had going on."

When Pass-Gill finally learned the terrible news, "I had no words. I just couldn't believe it. ... She was so innocent and naive. Tina was the last girl on earth you would ever think" this could happen to. 

Pass-Gill had Delva in her class each afternoon, but it never failed, each morning at 7:05 a.m., "Tina was in my door " wanting to say hi.

Sometimes Delva stopped by at lunch and wanted to have lunch with Pass-Gill.

"She was a great kid," Pass-Gill said. Her former student was meticulous and would often come back to Pass-Gill to make sure she understood a task or assignment and how it should be done.

Delva was intelligent and was going to be a great nurse, Pass-Gill said. During clinicals, Delva knew how to work with patients. "Most kids her age need guidance and help ... but she knew how to work with people."

Pass-Gill said her students know her as the "keep it real teacher." She doesn't try to sugar coat things. "I always try to speak true. ... I want them to know this world, when you get out there, may not be nice to you."

But Delva's senseless death "is not the lesson I wanted them to learn."

Another Pike teacher, April Moss, had Delva in her junior English class.

"She was always the student who came in with a smile. She always asked me how my day was, and her positive attitude was noticeable. I also know she wanted to be a nurse and would talk about her desire to want to help people," Moss said.

On social media, Delva wrote about her graduation from high school, "Making my family proud was all I wanted to do and did it. Determination got me here  ...WE DID IT 2020."

On Sunday, during a tribute to Ruth Bader-Ginsburg in front of the federal courthouse in Terre Haute, those attending honored Delva with a moment of silence.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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