Family calls for end to violence at memorial for slain woman, friend
on October 13, 2009
RICHMOND – Nineteen-year-old Kaneesha Mallard was the baby of her family, a churchgoing bunch guided by a strong mother. The family was focused on living a “normal life,” one of her sisters said.
But nothing was normal about the last moments of Mallard’s life.
Mallard and friend Alfred Thomas, 20, were sprayed with bullets after stopping at a local gas station on the night of Sept. 11. Thomas died in the car. Mallard, the youngest of six siblings, drew her last breaths on the ground next to a gas pump.
Police have made no arrests, and decline to say whether they have leads or if the killings were gang-related because they don’t want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation, Officer Phillip Sanchez said.
Mallard and Thomas became Richmond’s 37th and 38th homicides in 2009.
Days later, members of her family were joined by local clergy and Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin to memorialize the two victims.
Together they called for action to halt the violence that has claimed more than 40 lives in the city this year.
About 30 people attended the mid-day event at the 76 gas station in the 1500 block of Carlson Boulevard where the killings occurred. A bouquet of roses rested next to the gas pump to mark the spot where Mallard died.
Mallard had stopped for gas on her way home to Hercules, said her sister Alicia Hamilton.
Attendees took turns signing a memorial poster for Mallard. Some spoke to reporters. The poster, adorned with photos of the smiling young woman and handwritten condolences, will be given to Mallard’s mother, family members said.
“We just want people to know that this has to stop,” said one of Mallard’s sisters, Kizzy Hamilton, 29. “No family should have to go through this, no young people should be losing their lives.”
Mayor McLaughlin called for increasing community cooperation with police. Tightening local budgets for cities was reaching “national crisis” proportions, she said, and added that stimulus money from the federal government would be used to hire more police officers.
“This is the number one priority for the city of Richmond, to reduce our homicide rate,” McLaughlin said.
The Hamilton family has since lost another family member to homicide. Mallard’s cousin, Derrick Rogers, 33, was shot on Sept. 21. Information about that investigation, which has not led to an arrest, is also under tight wraps, Sanchez said.
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