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Neighbor describes finding mother, toddler shot outside Roanoke home

Photo of Aryah Leigh Lipford, courtesy of the grandmother, Mekeysha Lipford. (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A local mother was recovering in the hospital Friday following a late night shooting in Roanoke.

Family members say Rachel Quesenberry is in stable condition after being shot multiple times. Police say her young daughter died from injuries sustained during the incident.

Family members said her 6-year-old son was also there at the time of the shooting. He was unharmed and staying with his grandmother.

The shooting happened along the 3100 block of Oakland Boulevard NW just before 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 16.

When police arrived, they found 26-year-old Rachael Quesenberry and her daughter Aryah Leigh Lipford, both suffering from gunshot wounds. They were taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where the child, Aryah, was pronounced dead. Family members said the child would have turned 2-years-old next week.

Quesenberry's family said the loss of Aryah is devastating.

"That was my grand baby she was my heart, my everything," said Aryah's grandmother Mekeysha Lipford. "She was a loving, loving little girl. Everybody loved her."

"That baby didn't even, she didn't even know her own personality yet," said Quesenberry's cousin Samantha Thomas. "She was just beginning to learn who she was."

Next-door neighbor Dennis Blankenship said he heard several bangs Thursday night. He initially thought the sounds were fireworks, but after looking out his window, he rushed outside to help.

"She was laying right on the road, I didn't see the baby," Blankenship said about finding Quesenberry. "She started saying 'my baby, my baby, my baby's not breathing!'. So I hauled straight over there, kneeled down and felt the pulse, the baby was not breathing."

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Investigators have named Warner L. Hunter III as the suspect in the shooting. The shooting happened in the street in front of 25-year-old Hunter's home. Police said he left the scene in a vehicle after the incident.

Several hours later, at 1 a.m. on Friday, July 17, officers said Virginia State Police and Covington Police took Hunter into custody. He was taken to the Roanoke City Jail and the vehicle he drove to Covington was being processed for evidence.

Police said it appears Hunter and Quesenberry had a relationship at some point, but a motive for the shooting was not clear. Hunter was charged with non-capital second-degree murder and malicious wounding - stab, cut, wound with malicious intent.

This investigation remains ongoing.

The family has set up a Go Fund Me account.  If you would like to donate click here.