PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — On July 2nd, tragedy struck for a Petersburg family after their daughter was shot and killed outside of her apartment building. Now, a group of artists is creating a mural in that same spot to honor her life.
19 year-old Toni Knight was walking inside the Artist Space Lofts along Perry Street with her two young nieces when a group of gunmen opened fire. Knight got caught in the crossfire and a bullet struck her in the chest, killing her. Knight’s 12-year-old niece was also grazed by a bullet, but survived.
Nearly three weeks later, windows near the shooting are still boarded, serving as a constant reminder of this tragedy. Those artists hope that through creating this mural, they will bring peace to the community.
“We need to beautify the situation as much as we can,” said Tazewell, a local artist.
On Wednesday, she, along with two other artists, began painting a mural on the sidewalk where Knight took her last breath.
“When you walk over here, you can feel that it just needs some art,” she said. “So, we’ll put down art to celebrate the life of the child.”
Petersburg City Council showed full support for the initiative at a council meeting Tuesday night. 8news obtained photos of what the mural will look like, complete with bright colors and a large image of a woman, commemorating Knight.
“It feels awesome to know that my daughter brought light to the community and has all this support,” said Diane Branzelle, Toni’s mother. “I feel like she has just brought a lot of attention to stop the violent situations. I’m really impressed.”
While this family will use the mural to remember Toni, they’re still searching for answers related to Knight’s death.
On July 4th, Petersburg Police arrested and charged 19-year-old Delvin Mitchell with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection to the deadly shooting. However, investigators confirm there are other suspects still on the run.
“She was innocent. She was a beautiful baby girl. She was a child,” Branzelle said. “I need justice for my baby girl.”
This family is begging anyone with information to come forward.
“It would bring peace to the community, to me, as her mother, to her family. I want my babygirl to rest in please, just please come forward,” she said.
Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to contact the Petersburg Crime Solvers at 804-861-1212 or use the P3 TIps mobile app. Crime Solvers will pay a reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.