Shooting victim remembered as "strong-minded and sassy"

4:11 AM, Feb 14, 2010   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

Tampa, Florida - Family and friends are remembering Alyssa Aracich, 19, as a fun-loving teenager who was "sassy" and knew what she wanted.

Friday, she was shot dead in a car while she was out with friends.

Andre Watkins, 53, who was arrested in connection with her murder, allegedly led deputies on a shooting rampage through Hillsborough County.  He was arrested around 1 a.m. Saturday at a gas station in Plant City.

'We're just in shock.  It hasn't sunk in,' said Brenda Geoghagan, who is Alyssa's aunt. 

Friday night, Aracich and two male friends left her mother's house in South Tampa and drove to the Town 'N Country area of Tampa, Geoghagan said.

"I think one of her friends dated someone in that area," Geoghagan recalled.  "They were dropping someone off or picking them up.  [It was a] typical Friday night get-together."

On Chadbourne Drive in Tampa, Watkins allegedly fired into the red car Aracich was in.  Her two male friends escaped.  Aracich was killed.

Geoghagan says the family didn't know Watkins.

'I think he was just known as the crazy neighbor, but that's all I know,' she said.

Aracich loved chocolate, animals and reggae music, her family said.

She was enrolled at United Medical Academy, where she was training to be a medical billing specialist.  She also worked part-time at Hyatt catering and Lead Canine Performance.  She attended middle school at Cambridge Christian Academy and spent some time at Chamberlain High School before dropping out and getting her G.E.D.

Geoghagan says Aracich's parents divorced about a decade ago and that it was hard on Aracich.

'That might be why she dropped out of high school.  It was hard on her,' Geoghagan said.

Funeral arrangements will most likely include a Catholic ceremony.  Final details are still being worked out.

Janie Porter, 10 Connects

Most Watched Videos