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GREENSBORO, N.C. — A Greensboro mom could face the death penalty. Brittany McKinney, 28, faced a judge for the first time on Thursday, after police say she shot and killed three people Wednesday morning. She didn’t say a word during the brief hearing. FOX8 spoke with McKinney’s sister and mother on Wednesday and Thursday. They tell FOX8 it’s an extremely difficult time and truly tragic for the entire family. FOX8 also spoke with someone who says they were with McKinney just minutes after the crimes took place. Veronica Hayes was with McKinney less than 30 minutes after investigators say 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 say 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,” Hayes said. Also happening in that timeframe, 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 on McKinney’s home. “I never thought she would do something like this,” she said. Lisa Campos and her daughter Laila still can’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.” It’s a sentiment echoing 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 has popped up outside of where tragedy struck.
There, friends and neighbors have put up pictures, cards, flowers and a bundle of purple balloons. The grieving process for family and friends is only just beginning. “I didn’t want to believe it,” Merritt said. “I still don’t.” Merritt tells FOX8 she thinks her sister was just overwhelmed with life and it just became too hard for her. FOX8 is told Guilford County Schools will be providing crisis counselors for students at Simkins Elementary School on Monday. McKinney is being held without bond and is expected to be back in court on Feb. 11.