Community rallies around slain victim’s family

Wednesday evening, city and county officials held a press conference on the front porch where mother-of-five Aesha Kendrick was killed Sunday morning to ask for the community’s help in ending gun violence and donations to the family.

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer

PETERSBURG – City and county officials along with the community continue to rally around the family of 38-year-old shooting victim Aesha Kendrick. A press conference held Wednesday evening called for an end to gun violence and for the community to show up for the family.

“It has been a long few days for this family, and I know exactly how they feel, and I’m just standing up here to ask our city to come together to help this family, to do whatever you can to support them,” said City Council Chair Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, whose son’s life was also cut short due to senseless gun violence.

Kendrick, a mother of five, was sitting on her front porch Sunday morning eating breakfast. In her last Facebook post hours before she was shot, she thanked Jehovah God for waking her and her family up for another day.

According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, 29-year-old Jamal Walker fired multiple shots at a truck passing by on the corner of 45th Street and 20th Avenue South. A stray bullet entered and exited Kendrick’s small frame, hitting vital organs on its way out.

A neighbor rushed over and performed CPR until medics arrived. Kendrick underwent hours of emergency surgery at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg but succumbed to her injuries.

“Ms. Aesha Kendrick was taken from our community, from her family and from her children in a senseless act of violence…,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch. “As a community, we are calling for an end to this violence. It destroys lives, it makes our neighborhoods less safe, and it threatens any progress that we’re all working for in our community.”

Kendrick and her cousin Lakeita Powell grew up together in Jordan Park. She read about a shooting on Facebook in her cousin’s neighborhood, and shared the post, stopping short of tagging Kendrick. Ten minutes later, her son gave her the bad news.

Powell rushed to the hospital where family members and friends were praying.

“We were just really hopeful,” she said.

When the surgeon pulled up a chair, Powell knew her beloved cousin was gone. The room was thrown into turmoil, and Kendrick’s two oldest children were inconsolable.

Kendrick’s cousin Sampson Jordan said he is still in shock.

“You take a senseless act of not caring about a person’s well-being. He [Walker] turned this woman’s household upside down,” said Jordan, revealing that police told him her murderer has no remorse.

Jordan said one of Kendrick’s children refuses to enter the house through the front door, and the second to the youngest boy is special needs.

“We are a close-knit family minus one,” said Jordan. “When I walked through her door, we used to call each other names; now I don’t have that person to joke with anymore.”

Powell said when scrolling through Kendrick’s Facebook page and reading post from other people, there is one common thread among all who posted: “She loved her kids.”

Pinellas County School Board Chair Rene Flowers asked the community to rally around the Kendrick family and show support.

“If we say that we are a village, this is time to show that we know how to act like a village and how to keep our village together,” she said, announcing a Go Fund Me campaign to help pay for Kendrick’s funeral.

Octavious Keys, Kendrick’s boyfriend and father of her youngest child, is visibly still in shock. He woke up Sunday morning to screaming and the love of his life in a pool of blood. As he held the couple’s one-year-old child, he fought back the tears to get through the press conference.

“I just want to thank everybody for coming out and showing support. I really appreciate it; very helpful,” Keys expressed.

For now, Keys will take care of three of the children while Kendrick’s mother has accepted the other two into her home. Both households are in desperate need of help. The family expressed the need for diapers (size 6) and toiletry items. All of the children are in need of clothing.

Senator Darryl Rouson said he’s been in touch with the Victim’s Crime Compensation Fund and will be at the attorney general’s office on Thursday in Tallahassee to discuss with them how that fund can help the family.

Flowers thanked the principals, teachers and classmates who attended the press conference.

“I go to her videos so I can see her and her voice,” said Powell. “That makes it a little better for me.”

If you would like to donate money, please log on to https://www.gofundme.com/aesha-kendrick.

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