Teenager shot, killed in Denver looked forward to becoming manicurist

A teenager who was fatally shot inside a car in Denver was a hard-working girl who enjoyed doing her nails and makeup and dreamed of becoming a manicurist or makeup artist.

Aaliyah “Tati” Granados Cortez, 16, was with her sister, Jennifer “Jenni,” 19, when an armed young male, likely a teen, shot Aaliyah, said Wendy Cortez, the girls’ mother.

The shooting happened about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday in the 5400 block of Atchinson Way, according to Denver police.

Cortez said the sisters were driving from Centennial to their maternal grandmother’s house, in Commerce City, when Jenni, who preferred taking side roads to get off the highway as soon as possible, made a wrong turn. She parked and the sisters were using a GPS to get back on track when the shooting happened.

After Aaliyah was shot, Jennifer drove off in a panic, looking for a safe, familiar place, winding up in the 4600 block of Peoria Street, where she called 911 for help, Cortez said.

Aaliyah was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead on Thursday morning.

“She was a very good girl,” a still-shaken Cortez said on Friday. “They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. No one deserves to die that way.”

Aaliyah, who lived with her paternal grandparents in Centennial, attended Grandview High School. After her grandfather was injured in an accident around the start of the school year, she took a break from schoolto go to work at Walmart to help support her grandparents, Cortez said.

“She worked very hard,” Cortez said.

The shooting suspect fled the scene and remains at large, according to police.

“I do wish they would come forward, I don’t feel they were initially trying to kill my daughter,” Cortez said. “Kids, especially nowadays, there are a lot of kids killing kids, it’s ridiculous. I want them to surrender.”

The Cortez family has organized a GoFundMe page.

Anyone with information on the shooting, or on a suspect, is asked to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 (STOP).

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