The family of 17-year-old Hahnville High School (HHS) senior Layla Scott recently announced the establishment of a memorial scholarship in her honor.
A lifelong Boutte resident, Scott was one of two people shot to death on Nov. 19 at the corner of Esplanade and North Claiborne in New Orleans near a Tremé-area gas station. It was there in Tremé she and friends had gathered to observe a Ninth Ward second-line brass band perform. On that fateful Sunday, the teen had unknowingly stood near someone else that happened to be the target of approaching gunmen.
“She was an innocent bystander,” Layla’s mother Shandra Scott said of the shooting. “[The shooter was] aiming at a guy – one of her cousin’s friends – and they shot her; she was standing close to him.”
CPR was administered, but the 17-year-old later died at a nearby New Orleans hospital as the result of her gunshot wound. The other male shooting victim who died on the scene was later identified by the Orleans Coroner’s Office as 24-year-old Ahmontae Wishom.
“Layla was a soft-hearted person, and she was a very friendly person,” Shandra Scott said of her daughter. “She volunteered at nursing homes and with the elderly – she would spend her summers and holidays doing that.”
Like many teenagers her age, Layla enjoyed shopping, her mother said fondly, and had recently begun modeling. She held a part-time job at the local Wendy’s restaurant in the evenings and on weekends.
Shandra Scott referred to her daughter Layla as a “miracle baby,” as she was told by doctors she would not be able to bear additional children due to complications from a blood disorder. Thirteen years following the birth of her first child, Shandra became unexpectedly pregnant for Layla, and had to administer doctor-prescribed injections six times per day to herself in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
“I was pregnant right during the midst of Hurricane Katrina,” Shandra Scott said. “It was chaos, and we called her a miracle baby because she survived [all of those conditions].”
Shandra said her daughter had a habit of helping and bringing home troubled local teenagers, whom the Scott family would help and sometimes give temporary shelter to while their young guests sorted out their family problems.
Her daughter Layla enjoyed traveling – the teenager had just returned from a trip from Miami before she died – and was already planning a cruise with friends following her upcoming graduation.
The Scott family has set up a scholarship fund, the Layla Arshan McCray Scott Memorial Scholarship, in her memory, and is currently collecting donations to fund its first round of scholarships it plans on giving to two HHS students in the spring.
“Layla would have graduated this year, so I want the class that she would have graduated with to benefit from this,” Shandra Scott explained.
The memorial scholarship, Shandra Scott said, will require students to write gun-violence prevention related essays as part of the application process.
Given her daughter had planned to attend vocational school for physical therapy in 2024 following her graduation at HHS, Shandra Scott said the scholarship plans to award two $1,500 scholarships – one for a typical college student and one for a vocational-bound student like Layla.
For more information on the scholarship set up by family members in Layla Scott’s honor, or to donate to the scholarship fund, visit GoFundMe under the title ‘Layla A Scott Memorial Scholarship” or via the link https://www.gofundme.com/f/layla-a-scott-memorial-scholarship.