RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — City leaders on Tuesday offered their condolences to the family of the 9-year-old girl who was killed in a weekend shooting while attending a cookout at a Richmond park and called for an end to ‘tragic, senseless’ violence.
“It breaks my heart and breaks the hearts of many of our families who reside here in the City Richmond,” Mayor Levar Stoney said outside City Hall Tuesday morning.
Markiya Simone Dickson died at the hospital Sunday after she was shot at Carter Jones Park while attending a community cookout with her family. Authorities say shots rang out from the nearby basketball court, and Markiya was struck while trying to flee to safety.
“I ran through the bullets and all to find my baby laying on the ground bleeding,” Dickson’s father, Mark Whitfield, told 8News.
“She was my bundle of joy. I can’t get her back … my life is shattered.” — Ciara Dickson
Another boy, 11, was also injured in the shooting; he was initially said to be fighting for his life, but officials said Tuesday that the boy’s injuries were considered ‘non-life threatening.’
“Every family should expect when they visit a public park, that their family will come back intact,” Mayor Levar Stoney said outside City Hall Tuesday morning. “Unfortunately, that did not happen this past weekend.
Mayor Stoney and the city’s interim police chief, William C. Smith, said investigators are working diligently to pursue leads. They’re calling on members of the large crowd that was at the park Sunday to come forward with any and all tips.
“It’s tragic, senseless, and I want all of our citizens to know that we will do everything within our power to bring those responsible to justice,” Mayor Stoney said.
The heartbroken parents are also begging the community to report any information to the police.
“Please say something,” C. Dickson pleaded. “My daughter didn’t deserve this.”
A Chesterfield County Public Schools spokesperson confirmed to 8News on Tuesday that Dickson was a third grader at Crestwood Elementary School. The school’s principal emailed parents about the tragic news:
“Good evening Crestwood families, this is Principal Lindsay Porzio. It is with much sadness that I share the Crestwood community has experienced the loss of one of our students, third grader Markiya Dickson. Tonight, our team has gathered to contact parents and families directly affected. Additional counselors from neighboring schools will be here to assist students as needed. Please keep the Dickson family in your thoughts.”
-Principal Lindsay Porzio