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“She was the sweetest little girl:” Loved ones remember the life of Laylah Petersen

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Hearts are heavy all over Milwaukee today. Many are mourning the death of Laylah Petersen, many who never even knew her. But of course, the pain is no more severe than for her family.

Flowers, teddy bears, balloons and pictures lay on the steps of the little girl's home. What's happened there is a nightmare no parent ever wants to experience, and loved ones are inconsolable.

Through tears and sorrow, Robert Petersen finds the fortitude to share memories of his 5-year-old daughter, Laylah Petersen.

"She was the sweetest little girl, so smart and so beautiful," said Laylah's father, Robert.

Overcome with grief, knowing he will never hold his little girl in his arms again.

"The feeling just destroys me, like I never felt this pain in my life. My daughter was my whole life," said Robert.

Family members gather outside of her home where she was killed, inconsolable from their heartache. They try to focus on how the little girl packed a lot of fun into her short life.

But their thoughts are also on what happened outside the home, when someone opened fire while Laylah sat on a family member's lap.

And although Laylah is gone, her father finds some comfort in knowing his little princess is an angel who will give life.

Robert says that's really keeping him going -- knowing some other child will get the chance to grow up and experience all the milestones in life. But unfortunately, the little girl's family continues to plan Laylah's final arrangements.