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BELLEVIEW — Katie Stahl stood weeping in her front yard on Tuesday, mourning her 23-year-old daughter, Sonja Chantilly Jean Stahl, who was shot and killed early Sunday.
The young woman, who was named after her grandmother, was a hard worker and good mother, family said.
“She had a good heart. She loved her daughter,” Katie Stahl said. The child is 3-year-old Ariana Rose.
A case of self-defense? Woman fatally shot in SE Ocala was passenger in friend’s car; shooter claims self-defense
What happened on Sunday
Sonja Stahl was with her friend, Alexa Ty Newton, early Sunday. Newton drove to her ex-boyfriend’s home, located in the 2600 block of Southeast 56th Street, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
A domestic disturbance ensued. The ex-boyfriend, Timothy Eugene Mack, is accused of shooting at the car. He said he was acting in self defense, hoping to hit the engine so the vehicle would not him him. A bullet struck Stahl, who was seated in the vehicle’s front passenger seat.
“I know she’s in God’s hands,” Katie Stahl said.
Through her tears, Stahl said she doesn’t hold a grudge against Mack or Newton.
“I forgive them. I know he didn’t do it on purpose. I wish no harm, but there’s still no justice. I won’t forget and I hope she (Newton) learns from this,” Stahl said.
Sonja Stahl was born in Tennessee
Stahl said her daughter was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and grew up in Pennsylvania and later Florida. She attended schools in Pennsylvania and Florida and received her diploma in south Florida.
Sonja Stahl worked at several restaurants in Ocala including Popeyes, Texas Roadhouse and Southern Pig & Cattle.
“She had a job since she was 17,” her mother said.
Stahl said her daughter has five brothers and a sister, with the oldest age 41.
She said her daughter had known Newton, also known as Lex, for three or four years. Stahl said she called her daughter shortly before 1:30 a.m. Sunday to check on her. She said her daughter told her to leave the door open because she would be home soon.
‘She was a bubbly person who had an open heart’
One of Stahl’s friends, Destiny Guerrero, said the two met at Belleview High School and had the same classes and lunch breaks.
Guerrero said Stahl was “a good person” to her while they were at school. After school, she said, the two remained close. She liked playing Mortal Kombat, the video game.
“She was a bubbly person who had an open heart. She was always there for you and a really good person,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said Stahl liked to have fun and would frequently smile.
“No matter if she was sad, she would greet you with a smile and was always laughing,” she said.
Guerrero said Stahl’s passing is going to leave a mark on those who knew her.
“She touched a lot of hearts. She’s always going to be missed,” she said.
Stahl and Guerrero both have daughters who are toddlers. She said the children interacted with each other and were close in age. Guerrero’s daughter is 2.
“It’s hard,” she said.