GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A Greensboro, North Carolina mom could face the death penalty -- accused of fatally shooting her daughter, niece, and a man who was living with them. Brittany McKinney, 28, faced a judge for the first time on Thursday, Jan. 2 after police said she shot and killed three people Wednesday morning, Jan. 1.
She didn't say a word during the brief hearing.
WGHP spoke with McKinney's sister and mother, and someone who said they were with McKinney just minutes after the crimes took place.
Veronica Hayes said she was with McKinney less than 30 minutes after investigators said McKinney shot and killed her 10-year-old daughter Mkenzie, 2-year-old niece Serenity, and 61-year-old Jerry Griffin, who was living with the family on Sweet Birch Drive.
Greensboro police said McKinney was involved in a crash on Wendover Avenue, where she hit a power pole and Hayes' car, just moments after the killings allegedly took place.
"I was just trying to make sure she was OK, not knowing what had happened moments before," Hayes said. "She grabbed my hoodie and said, 'I don't want you to be involved.' She said, 'Sis, I don't want you to be involved.' I think she was a little disoriented at that point."
Also happening in that timeframe was a heart-wrenching phone call from McKinney to her sister.
"She said, 'I killed everybody. I shot everybody in the house,'" said Delilah Merritt, McKinney's sister. "She's like, 'My baby, my baby. I shot my baby,' and then I said, 'Where's Serenity?' and she said, 'I shot her, too.'"
That's when Merritt knew something was wrong and called for a welfare check at McKinney's home.
"I never thought she would do something like this," she said.
Lisa Campos and her daughter, Laila, said they couldn't believe what happened a few houses down from them.
"They would play in the front of my house and stuff," Campos said.
Laila and Mkenzie rode the bus together to George C. Simkins Jr. Elementary School.
"We just became friends and she was really nice to me," Laila said. "I'm going to miss her."
That sentiment was echoed throughout the neighborhood.
"I got balloons. It's a sad situation, just very sad," said Gina Baldwin, a neighbor. "I hate that this happened."
A small mailbox makeshift memorial popped up at the scene, where friends and neighbors were leaving pictures, cards, flowers, and a bundle of purple balloons.
"I didn't want to believe it," Merritt said. "I still don't."
Merritt said she thinks her sister was just overwhelmed with life and it just became too hard for her.
McKinney was being held without bond -- expected to be back in court on Feb. 11.