‘A cowardly act’: No suspects yet in 9-year-old’s shooting death

Updated: May. 28, 2019 at 6:24 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The parents of the nine-year-old girl, shot and killed in the crossfire, want you to know who she is.

Markiya Simone Dickson didn't survive the gunshots that broke out at a community cookout in south Richmond's Carter Jones Park, Sunday.

At least a hundred people were celebrating Memorial Day weekend, when two children were struck by bullets. Nine-year-old Dickson and an 11-year-old boy were both rushed to the hospital.

The boy survived. Markiya didn’t.

"That girl’s got a name. My baby’s got a name,” said Markiya’s father Mark Whitfield. “Her name is Markiya Simone Dickson.”

Their pain will never go away. Markiya’s parents Ciara Dickson and Mark Whitfield now want to make sure their daughter is known to the world.

Markiya was a third grader who hugged everyone she met, excited to sing her favorite Justin Bieber song in an upcoming talent show at her school Crestwood Elementary in Chesterfield.

"We practicing and she was just singing and singing,” said Whitfield.

It’s a song Markiya will never get to perform before her proud parents.

"She came back and said, ‘Daddy, I got in!’ She was so excited. I said, ‘I’m going to be in there making the most noise.’ And now, I can’t even see her do that.”

Mark and Ciara’s “monkey in the middle” as they nicknamed their middle child wasn’t able to escape the bullets.

“She was trying to get away,” said Dickson, when up to 15 bullets sprayed through the crowd, according to witnesses.

"There's no real words for it," said neighbor Luke Rabin, who was at the park for the aftermath. “It just felt like a disaster...seeing so many kids running and screaming."

“I ran than through the bullets and everything to find my baby on the ground bleeding,” said Whitfield.

Mark and Ciara are now praying for both strength and justice for Markiya, pleading for anyone with information on the shooters to come forward.

"Please say something. My daughter didn’t deserve this. I’m not going to let her go in vain,” said Dickson.

“She was my everything. A part of my heart is missing. We can’t get her back. Nothing can change that.”

Richmond’s mayor, police chief and school superintendent expressed their sympathy and condolences Tuesday to the families impacted by the shooting dead.

Officers were called to Carter Jones Park, in between Perry and Bainbridge Streets, for the shooting at 7:23 p.m. Sunday.

Family members identified the girl as 9-year-old Markiya Simone Dickson.

“That girl got a name. My baby got a name. Her name is Markiya Simone Dickson,” Mark Whitfield and Ciara Dickson said on Monday.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Jason Kamras said Dickson was previously a student in the school system.

“Sadly this is all too common for children at Richmond Public Schools," said Kamras.

Interim Chief of Police William Smith says the Richmond Police Department does not yet have any suspects in the incident, but are getting a lot of valuable leads. Still, the chief says they need more information from witnesses and community members.

“They were completely innocent,” Smith said of the children involving, calling the shooting a “cowardly act.”

Smith says the boy who was shot is 11 years old and is expected to be OK.

“It’s senseless,” Mayor Levar Stoney said of recent gun violence. “A child being robbed of their life just for being a child is problematic for me."

Stoney said every department in the city needs to work together to make sure that “kids can be kids” when going anywhere in the city.

NBC12 has also confirmed that there were no working surveillance cameras in Carter Jones Park. The only park that has cameras is Abner Clay Park, following the incident where a dog was set on fire in early February.

Police ask anyone with information, photos or videos to email Major Crimes Detective Benjamin Neifeld at Benjamin.Neifeld@richmondgov.com or call (804) 646-3246. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help Markiya’s family.

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