Family reveals toll of gun violence in Tampa after aspiring nurse's shooting death

Tampa police say they are getting closer to solving the seemingly random shooting death of a 21-year-old nursing student. 

Savannah Mathis was in her car, driving on Grace Street near Julian B. Lane Park, when at least one person opened fire, shooting into her car from another vehicle.

Savannah's mother, LaMaria Smith, was joined by friends and family at Tampa General Hospital to say their goodbyes as the young HCC student was taken off life support. 

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Smith shared the photos with FOX 13 News to show the reality of gun violence in Tampa. 

Savannah's mother provided photos taken inside TGH as family said goodbye

Savannah hung to life for two days after she and her passenger were hit by the gunfire. Her passenger was also hit, but survived.

At BJ's Alabama Barbecue, the family business, Savannah's mother said the restaurant was one of many places her daughter shined.

"When people come in here, they come for the barbecue, but a lot of the times, they came for the conversations with Savannah," Smith said.

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Family photos show Savannah with Tampa first responders

Pictures show the aspiring nurse, who graduated from Plant High School in 2018 with a 5.0 GPA, getting along with everyone; law enforcement, firefighters, and her co-workers, who were her family, in every sense of the word.

"Just for a kid to want to keep the legacy going in Tampa that my grandfather worked so hard for, 53 years, it speaks volumes," Smith said.

Memorial inside family's BBQ restaurant to Savannah Mathis

Beyond saying they are getting closer to arresting at least one suspect, police were tight-lipped on the details of what happened to Savannah Wednesday night. Her car crashed when she was shot.

"Our detectives have been non-stop, talking to witnesses, trying to gain more information about exactly what happened," said TPD Chief Ruben Delgado. "We feel pretty good about it, still a lot of work to do, but I am confident the person responsible for that shooting will be brought to justice."

Her mother is desperate for that moment, but more for Savannah to still be working behind the counter of their family business, which is almost as much their pride and joy as she was. 

The shrine to her in the restaurant isn't going anywhere.

"For people to come in and not see her, it is going to dampen this whole restaurant. It is not going to be the same. It will never be the same," Smith said.

Her family is still making funeral arrangements – a far cry from planning her 22nd birthday party, which she was supposed to spend in Atlanta with her mother next month.

A fundraiser to support her family has been set up online at