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Helping Markiya’s family: ‘If we can raise money for a dog… we can raise money for this grieving family’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Community members who never met Markiya Dickson continue to rally around her family. Nine-year old Markiya was an innocent bystander having fun with family and friends at a community cookout at a south Richmond park when she was hit by gunfire and killed Sunday night.

Neighbors in the Swansboro and Woodland Heights community printed out dozens of pictures of a smiling Markiya and hung them up around Fonticello/Carter Jones Park to pay tribute to her and encourage anyone with information on her homicide to come forward.

Precious Turner saw Markiya's parents speak out and felt compelled to help.

"It really touched my heart. I just sat in my car and cried just thinking about the parents and what they must feel, all they are going through," Turner said.  "It could have been any one of us with our kids in the park that day."

Precious Turner

Precious Turner

Turner launched a T-shirt fundraising campaign a few days ago. All the proceeds will go directly to Markiya's family, Turner said.

The shirts include the phrase "Markiya is her name" next to a photo of the nine-year old.

"Her name is Markiya Simone Dickson. That needs to be known, and she got a face to her. She was our bundle of joy," Mark Whitfield, Markiya's father, said on Monday.

Markiya's father Mark Whitfield and mother Ciara Dickson

Bonfire, a local apparel company helping print and distribute the shirts, said they would wave its normal credit card processing and donation fees in order to raise more money for Markiya's family.

"The fact that they want you to know her name, to really give a name for this tragedy so it really touches your heart.  It’s not just some person.  It’s an actual human, a beautiful girl, a whole family, a whole community that’s lost somebody that they love," Turner said.  "If we can raise money for Tommie the dog, then we can definitely gather together and raise money for this family that’s grieving right now."

The shirts are available through Bonfire, but Turner encouraged those who do not want one to donate to a Go Fund Me page for Markiya's family that's already raised more than $11,600.

Markiya T-shirt

While Turner never met Markiya's family, she wanted to show them that many in Richmond would not forget their daughter's name.

"I really don’t want people to forget how violence affects are community.  So many times it’s just blown over and we’re on to the next thing," she said.  "We want to remember her.  We want to remember her spirit."

Richmond Police continue to ask for pictures or video taken shortly before or after the incident on Sunday.  The public can provide tips to Major Crimes Detective Benjamin Neifeld at Benjamin.Neifeld@richmondgov.com or (804) 646-3246 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at http://www.7801000.com.   All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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