By Marcy Norton, Trang Do

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – Hundreds of mourners gathered on South 8th Street in Camden Saturday night where a little girl was shot and later died earlier in the week.

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They lit candles in the hot twilight and joined hands in prayer and sadness, in eight-year old Gabrielle Carter’s memory.

Gabby’s grieving mother, Maresa Carter-Phillips, spoke publicly about the tragedy for the very first time.

“I’m hurting, I just want y’all to know I’m hurting so bad,” she said. “Because she didn’t deserve that. She did not deserve that.”

Collectively, family, friends, neighbors and strangers mourned Gabby as their own daughter.

“It was nothing she wouldn’t do for anybody, if you asked her,” Carter-Phillips said. “She was a little woman, she was my little woman. I love my baby so much and I wish she was still here.”

Gabby’s baby sister let go a bouquet of shiny pink and blue balloons, which floated toward the sky.

Gabby’s 15-year-old cousin Ja-Lia Goodman tearfully described her final moments:

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“I sang to Gabby last night, I painted Gabby’s nails last night. I kissed Gabby last night and to know that my baby was safe, that was the only thing that mattered.”

Another cousin, Ariel, said she and Gabby were cousins by chance, sisters by choice:

“I always will remember my baby as a fighter. She was a lover. She cared for each and every one of us, and now she’s still looking over us.”

Ariel’s emotional tribute gave way to the frustration with the violence that took her life. Community members say they believe someone knows who is responsible for Gabby’s death:

“I’m pleading, I’m asking, I’m begging, if you know something that will bring justice, come forth.”

There’s now a $24,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for firing the stray bullet that hit Gabby last Wednesday. She died Friday night.

Speaker after speaker beseeched their neighbors to stop hiding, to call the police and to help each other raise their children to avoid gangs and violence:

“It didn’t start today, and it’s not going to change today. But we’ve got to believe that we can make a difference as a whole. Somebody tell me they believe.”

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“I believe,” the crowd responded.