Dozens gather to pray for healing after park shooting kills 9-year-old girl

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hearts remained heavy Tuesday night after two children were shot at a Memorial Day cookout Sunday evening in Richmond's Carter Jones Park. One of the children, nine-year-old Markiya Dickson was killed.

"They're hurt, they're bothered. They have a lot of questions," community activist Charles Willis said when describing the South Richmond community.

On Tuesday, those who were at the park on Sunday, gathered outside New Life Deliverance Tabernacle in Manchester, and prayed for peace and healing followingDickson's death.

"There's a lot of trauma. A lot of trauma amongst the adults, as well as the children. Right now there's a courageous community conversation going on about gun violence," Willis said. "We're opening the doors of the church tonight to say 'hey, lets have that conversation.'"

Over at Carter Jones Park, other community members -- along with Richmond Police -- gathered for the same reason.

"The community is just stunned, we're actually stunned that something like this can actually happen in our community," neighbor Robert Morris said. "Why do we have so many guns in low-income areas, where are they coming from? And how do these young guys get their hands on guns?"

Shots rang out around 7:23 p.m. on Sunday near a basketball court at Carter Jones Park in south Richmond, officials said. The community cookout was happening separately from the altercation that ended in gunfire, according to Interim Richmond Police Chief William Smith said.

"There were people at the basketball courts playing basketball. That’s where we believe the incident originated,” Smith said. “Anybody who may have seen activities in that area or may have witnessed the argument that led to the shots being fired, call 780-1000.”

GoFundMe account has been set-up to help the family of Markiya.

Anyone with photos, video, or information about this homicide is asked to email Major Crimes Detective Benjamin Neifeld at or (804) 646-3246 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at

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