Richmond, Va. (WRIC) – The family of a woman, who was shot to death in Richmond last year, will honor her in a unique way.
Nakia Whittaker-Woody said the pain of losing her daughter, Briana Whittaker-Oliver, to gun violence still lingers.
“You’ll go to call her and you’ll be like ‘Oh my God’, so it’s been hard on all of us but we’re trying,” she said.
The family’s pain stretches back to when Whittaker-Oliver was shot and killed along Chamberlayne Avenue.
Richmond police said she was hit by random gunfire on November 29.
More than six months later, Whittaker-Oliver’s family and the Richmond SPCA are honoring her memory and volunteer work.
She worked with the local SPCA through their Animal Brigade Service Club– a volunteer program that allows middle schoolers to work with animals–from 2007 to 2010.
“She always wanted to be a veterinarian,” Whittaker-Woody said.
The SPCA hung a plaque up on their Celebration Wall to honor Whittaker-Oliver. The agency’s Celebration Wall honors the memory of those who contributed to the organization before their death.
“She always enjoyed animals and for her to be there, even though she didn’t get to work with them as long as she wanted, she still made an impact,” Whittaker-Woody said.
The SPCA told 8News that they’re working with the family to set up a scholarship in her name.
Whittaker-Woody is leading the charge on establishing the scholarship. It will enable three students from her daughter’s middle school, Thomas H. Henderson Middle School, to attend the SPCA’s Critter Camp this summer.
Whittaker-Woody said she hopes this scholarship will cultivate the aspirations of young students who want to be veterinarians.
“We want to give them that opportunity and foster that dream for them,” she said.
Amia Whittaker-Lane, Briana’s younger sister, said losing her sister still feels unreal.
“It’s like reliving the same nightmare every day,” Lane said. “Not a day goes by – it’s been six months, 191 days, it’s not something you lose count of.”
She’s proud of the work her sister did with the SPCA.
“It’s nice to know she has things in place for her, so her memory will finally continue to live on,” she said. “I’m glad other people remember for the great person she was.”
Whittaker-Woody said she communicates with the Richmond Police Department often to make sure her daughter’s case isn’t forgotten.
“I am determined that this is not going to be a case that just sits on his desk,” she said. “I understand that the police are understaffed and also have way more cases, but this is important to me.”
She wants city leaders to act on more gun control measures so no other parent experiences a loss like this.
“I can imagine how lonely it is if a person is going through this,” Whittaker-Woody said. “The city definitely needs to step up on some things.”