Subscribe for 99¢

ST. LOUIS • Shaneka Spraggins, like many teenagers, loved hanging out with friends and spending time on the computer, where she worked on drawings and collages.

"Nobody's a perfect kid, but she was a typical teen, " said Shaneka's father, Anthony Spraggins. "She didn't hang around trouble."

But on Sunday night, her father and police say, trouble found her.

The 15-year-old Mehlville High School student was on the porch of a relative's house in the 3800 block of St. Louis Avenue about 10:30 p.m., talking with a couple of boys, when shots rang out.

Shaneka suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. An hour later, she died at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.

"It was a total surprise, " Anthony Spraggins said. "It's really hard."

Spraggins said Shaneka was not particularly streetwise. He always warned her to stay alert in rougher neighborhoods. Shaneka lived with her father and stepmother in a tidy two-story brick home on North Kingshighway.

"She wasn't used to that, " he said. "She wasn't used to the gang fighting and all of that. She didn't know what to do or how to react to it."

Police believe none of the people on the porch were the intended target of the shooting, spokesman Richard Wilkes said. The shots may have come from down the street, he said. No one has been arrested.

"At this point, we believe she was an innocent bystander, " Wilkes said.

Shaneka's friends have left a pair of black flip-flops, a green plush M&M figure, an assortment of brightly colored teddy bears and plastic flowers along with a photo of the teenager next to the porch where she was shot.

Shaneka Spraggins was part of the voluntary interdistrict transfer program and had attended Mehlville as a freshman and sophomore. The transfer program allows African-Americans from St. Louis to attend schools in the county.

"She was doing everything she could do to get a good education, " Mehlville Principal Vince Viviano said.

Counselors are available for students attending summer school, Viviano said, which is being held this summer at Oakville.

"She was a very quiet young lady and a very nice girl, " Viviano said. "It's a tragedy and a terrible loss for us here."

Shaneka also was involved with a Christian youth group, where she enjoyed performing in skits, her father said.

Funeral and memorial services have not yet been finalized, and likely will be held Friday or Saturday.

"The way I'm talking with you now, I'm at peace, " Anthony Spraggins said. "I know where she's at and it's a good place."

Get high-interest news alerts delivered promptly to your inbox.