Richmond police arrested two men and are seeking a third in the shooting death of 9-year-old Markiya Dickson, Mayor Levar Stoney announced Friday after a graduation ceremony for new recruits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The report comes just over five months after bullets tore through a Memorial Day weekend cookout at Carter Jones Park in South Richmond, striking Markiya and an 11-year-old boy, who survived. A third gunshot victim, a man who had been in the park enjoying the festivities, later came forward.
Police at the time said an argument and gunfire broke out about 7:20 p.m. among a separate group at the basketball court and skateboard park at the far end of the park at 27th and Perry streets, near Semmes Avenue.
“This is not a day for celebration,” Stoney said Friday. “An innocent child’s bright future was taken away from her doing nothing other than playing in one of our public parks.”
Chief William Smith on Friday identified those arrested as Jermaine Davis, 21, and Quinshawn Betts, 18, both of the 4500 block of Millenbeck Road in South Richmond. Authorities charged Davis and Betts each with murder, two counts of malicious wounding and three counts of using a firearm in commission of a felony. Both men were arraigned Thursday.
Police are seeking a third suspect, Jesus Turner, 20, of Chesterfield County. Turner will be served with the same six indictments when he’s apprehended, police said.
“There is no win. It is a loss for everybody,” Smith said. “There’s no bringing Markiya back.”
Police declined to say who they believe fired the shot that killed Markiya.
News of the Crestwood Elementary School third-grader’s death redoubled local efforts to pursue gun control, prompting policy roundtables and a vigil where frustrated community members lit candles and prayed for an end to senseless violence.
Stoney cited Markiya’s death and a mass shooting at a Virginia Beach government center in proposing a symbolic ordinance to ban guns in public parks and city-owned buildings. The Richmond City Council approved the measure, which conflicts with current state law.
Through the day that Markiya was killed — May 26 — 100 people had been shot in Richmond for the year. That’s a 28% increase from the 78 people who had been shot at the same point in 2018.
Her death marked the city’s 24th homicide of the year. In the five months since, there have been an additional 31 lives cut short due to violence, bringing the year’s death toll to 55. At this point last year, 48 people had been killed.
The FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information related to her shooting. That reward resulted in just one tip, Smith said.
“We still need persons to come forward who were witnesses or have information to share,” he said Friday. “Anybody who now knows that these people are off the street should feel more comfortable in bringing forward information that we can use.”
“We can’t afford to lose another child in our city — not a single person in our city — to senseless gun violence,” Stoney said. “Enough is enough.”