Hours before she was killed in a senseless Brighton Beach boardwalk shooting, Tysha Jones looked like any other carefree teenager enjoying a day of sun and sea with friends.
One of the last known photos of the 16-year-old shows her playfully splashing around with a pal in the Atlantic Ocean, wearing a black bathing suit and red shorts, her beaming face a picture of joy.
A short while later, she was struck by a bullet when a gunman opened fire on the bustling Brooklyn boardwalk, leaving the high school student dead, four others wounded and hundreds of terrified beachgoers running for cover.
“She was just a lovely girl. She was just an innocent bystander,” her devastated mother, Cynthia Jones, said Friday morning, clutching her head with both hands.
“She had a lot of dreams. She wanted to be a singer, a dancer, she was looking into college, but now it’s all gone.”
Jones was a junior at Landmark High School and lived in an East Harlem apartment with her mother. She had three older siblings.
Friends said the popular teen was often seen walking around the neighborhood with the family’s two dogs, Sam and Goldie.
And as news of the tragedy spread, a makeshift memorial was set up outside the three-story 131st St. building with candles, a teddy bear and handwritten notes.
Hundreds of New York City school children were enjoying a day away from the classroom for Brooklyn-Queens Day Thursday. But for Jones, the trip to Brighton Beach almost did not happen.
The teenager pleaded for permission to go there with friends, and her mother initially said no before reluctantly agreeing.She bounded out of their home happily at about 12:30 a.m. saying, “I love you mom.”
“I told her I loved her too,” Cynthia Jones said slowly, her eyes bloodshot.
“That was the last time I saw her.”
“I didn’t want her going to the beach,” she explained.
“But still, I never thought anything could happen like this.
“It’s a beach. The kids are trying to have fun. She never had a chance. All these kids with all these guns. It’s hard to believe.”
The slain teen was close friends with Cheyenne Baez, a 17-year-old who was the innocent victim of a drive-by shooting in their East Harlem neighborhood last October.
“All she did was talk about Cheyenne – all the time,” her mother said.
“Now I know how [Cheyenne’s] mother feels.”
“My baby left me too quickly,” she added.
Police say a fight erupted on the Brighton Beach boardwalk at about 5:20 p.m. toward the end of a day of soaring summer temperatures.
A gunman fired about eight rounds, first shooting in the air and then aiming at the crowd, according to cops and witnesses. No arrests had been made by Friday morning.
Sources said Jones was shot in the left armpit and later died at Coney Island hospital.
Four more men were shot and injured, including a 23-year-old who was eating lunch at the Tatiana Grill situated right on the boardwalk.
“Everyone around here loved her,” family friend Glenda Farr said. “Tysha got killed for enjoying a day at the beach … All this violence is out of control.”