‘I have to be her strength’: Father remembers teen killed at Henrico shopping center
HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico police continue their search for the person who opened fire at a shopping center, leaving a 16-year-old girl dead over the weekend.
Jamirah Washington’s father says the John Marshall High student was excited about one day graduating early, but her life was cut short. Her teachers describe her as a ‘bright light,’ and a girl with a sense of humor who had a whole future ahead of her. But violence got in the way of her living to see it.
“It takes a lot of strength,” Mike Richards said while discussing his daughter. “Of course it hurt, but where she can’t be strong at now is where I have to be her strength.”
Richards never thought he’d be here, speaking about his teenage daughter in the past tense.
“My baby was bright, man. She was just on the right path,” he said.
It was Saturday evening, just before 5:30 p.m. when gunshots rang out at the White Oak Village Shopping Center in Henrico. Two people were shot, including 16-year-old Jamirah Washington, who lost her life.
Loved ones called her ‘Moo Moo.’
“I got a call from my momma while I was on the highway, saying ‘they’re saying that Moo Moo got shot’. I said ‘well, I just talked to her around four something’,” Richards recalls. He says it was a light-hearted conversation that ended abruptly. “I called her 77 times. It’s in my phone. It was a big joke about ‘how do you call someone that many times?’ I was like ‘to make sure you’re safe, baby. Daddy loves you’…But then her phone went silent. I was like ‘hmmm. Did she hang up?’ But she usually says ‘bye, alright, dad. I love you.’”
He didn’t imagine what would happen next. Three days later, police continue their search for the shooter.
“I would tell [the shooter], I forgive you, and then I’d let the law and the judge discipline however they see fit because I have to move forward,” Richards said.
Washington’s former teachers say they’re mourning too because the teen went out of her way to keep in touch with them. They say the recent violence is taking a toll.
“I think as educators, we always are nervous when it’s break time, whether it’s winter break, spring break, summer but particularly in this pandemic. We are so concerned about the children and the families we work with because we never know,” said Jamia Garrett.
Several teachers who worked with Jamirah over the past several years said she confided in them. They’ll remember her for how she always smiled and wanted to see others do the same.
Police will take any tip that will help catch the shooter. The number to call is (804) 780-1000.
Her family has created an online fundraiser to help raise money for a headstone. You can learn more here.
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