‘Full of joy.’ Friends and neighbors remember an 18-year-old found shot near her Fridley home

18-year-old identified as victim in Fridley death investigation, 17-year-old in custody

18-year-old identified as victim in Fridley death investigation, 17-year-old in custody

The Fridley neighborhood where Jayden Kline grew up is like a family.

Lisa Garcia, who lives just across the street, remembers first seeing her as a newborn.

“I saw her when she first came home from the hospital,” Garcia recalls. “I can’t get her face out of my head right now.”

Now, 18 years later, residents along Third Street Northeast say their hearts are broken.

“The community’s been reeling,” declares Zena Stenvik, the superintendent of Columbia Heights Schools. “Just full of grief and sadness. A difficult night last night, and a difficult day today.”

Many here are mourning the loss of Kline, who was found shot in the street outside her home Thursday afternoon.

“She just seemed like a sweet girl to me,” Garcia says. “For this to happen, it was horrible. Horrible beyond words.”

Just before 4 p.m., emergency crews initially responded to the report of a pedestrian hit-and-run crash —but found Kline with a gunshot wound.

Garcia says before paramedics arrived, a neighbor alerted her that someone had found the 18-year-old lying in the street.

“Someone called to ask, came over to ask me to help with CPR because I’m in the medical field. So, I went to help,” she says.

Garcia says she later learned a 17-year-old boy had been taken into custody by police.

Authorities have not released much information, except to say the teen has not been formally charged.

“I just don’t know what is going on in this world, this craziness,” Garcia says. “Him being 17, whoever he is, the suspect, that’s his life. That is, his life is over.”

Friends and staff at Columbia Heights High School, where Jayden graduated in June, are devastated.

“This loss is deeply impacting to all of us,” Stenvik says. “I would call her full of joy, she definitely lit up a room.”

The superintendent says Jayden was an important part of the high school synchronized swim team since seventh grade.

She notes the team placed seventh in this year’s in-state meet intermediate division.  

Stenvik says Jayden was a mentor to younger athletes, proud of her Native American heritage, and was a true leader.

“She was really a balance between her Indigenous culture, her passion for that culture, and also a friend, a supporter, and an incredible athlete as well,” she explains.

Jayden’s coaches say she would often perform a synchronized swimming routine with her best friend, Marissa Foy.

“She was a great athlete, and she would give support to the younger athletes, but just a great leader,” says Rachel Rodek, an assistant coach. “It is really sad that she had her whole life ahead of her and now it’s been cut short, and it’s a tragedy, losing someone like that.”

The district made counseling services available on Friday for students and staff.   

Ashley Foy, a friend sent 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS a note about Jayden, which said in part, “I can’t stop thinking about you, Jayden. I’m so sorry. You are so loved and will never be forgotten.”   

Stenvik says her former student was considering a career in nursing because she wanted to help people.

She decried the loss of Jayden’s life, tragically cut short.

“We need to put an end to this gun violence and youth having guns in their hands. It’s very problematic,” Stenvik says. “Our youth are so vibrant. They’ve got their whole lives ahead of them.”