Authorities are searching for a 14-year-old Georgia girl kidnapped by two gunmen during a home invasion that has put the neighborhood on edge and devastated the girl’s family.
A nationwide Amber Alert has been issued for Ayvani Hope Perez, who was snatched at about 2 a.m. Tuesday after two armed men broke into her home in Ellenwood, a suburb of Atlanta, after prying open the back door.
Perez’s mother hid with her two children and the family poodle, according to Clayton County police Officer Phony Nguyen — but the intruders found them, and demanded money and jewelry.
When the mother said she didn’t have any cash of value, the gunmen shot the dog and abducted Ayvani, who was last seen wearing blue and gray Star Wars pajama pants and a superhero shirt. Her 15-year-old brother was not harmed, police said.
The family took the dog to the vet, but it did not survive.
“We do believe the young lady is in harm’s way,” Clayton County Police Lt. Marc Richard said Tuesday afternoon.
"We've been receiving numerous tips," he said. "The investigation is fluid."
The FBI was brought in to assist.
Police said the armed suspects were driving a dark-blue Dodge or gray Chevrolet Impala.
About 50 of Ayvani’s friends and classmates held a prayer vigil for the teen’s sage return Tuesday evening at Dutchtown Hgh School, according to NBC affiliate WXIA.
Her peers described her as a good-natured, warm presence.
“She’s always the type of person to make somebody laugh, if you’re down,” her friend Olivia Wagner told TODAY. “She’s a really bubbly person.”
And one of her teachers said that despite Ayvani’s size — she stands at 4-feet-9-inches and weighs 93 pounds — she is resilient.
"She's a really good kid," Lori Burroughs, who taught Ayvani at Dutchtown Middle School, told NBC News on Tuesday.
"She's really tiny, but she can be feisty — so I think that could be a good thing in this situation,” she said.
Her grief-stricken mother told TODAY that she just wants to see her daughter “safe at home.”
In a plea to the kidnappers, she said: “Please bring her home safe and sound. That’s all I ask of you.”
NBC News' Victoria Moll-Ramirez and Daniel Arkin contributed to this report.