ST. PETERBURG, Fla. — The death of a 21-year-old mother has rattled people in St. Pete.
“No parent should have to bury their child and here you have a mother that shielded her child from death,” said Corey Givens, Jr., a community activist.
Investigators say K’Mia Simmons was shot multiple times in front of her 1-year-old baby and 2-year-old toddler in what they describe as an “ambush” attack.
“My sister’s life ended right there on the street. Her hopes, her dreams, her wishes,” said Lashawn Laster, K’Mia’s sister.
Her family says she was putting down a deposit on a birthday party for one of her kids shortly before she was killed Tuesday. Now they say both children are hurting tremendously. They say the youngest won’t eat or sleep.
“We’ve got to be strong for these kids. She says, my mommy is in the hospital. My mommy is dead. This is something she had to watch,” said Lafrances Simmons, K’Mia’s sister.
The news hits very close to home for Givens Jr.
"The truth of the matter is, I live in South St. Pete, I hear the gunshots I see the gang violence,” he said. “We want to feel safe in the place that we call home.”
It’s why he’s trying to change things. He’s the President of The Poor Peoples Campaign in St. Petersburg and walks neighborhoods with the take back our streets initiative in mind.
“We’ve been out there knocking on doors talking to residents, talking to business owners trying to find out how do we cultivate an environment that safe for everyone,” he said.
The number one thing people say they need and want is job opportunities.
“You know one of the reasons that so many young people turn to a life in the streets it’s for a quick dollar,” Givens, Jr., said.
He says more job training, workforce development, and programs that address mental health will help.
St. Pete Works is a collaboration of community organizations that look to not only help people find a job, but further, their education, teach new skills, help with child care, and more. The group’s office is blocks away from where K’Mia was killed.
“We have some programs in our community but again it’s about outreach,” Givens, Jr., said. “We need to put the word out there because our people perish from a lack of knowledge.”
Police say the father of one of K’Mia’s children, Parise Lovett Jr., ran from the shooting and left K’Mia and her two kids alone.
“Come forward, brother. Be a man and man up to your mistakes,” said Givens, Jr.
If you have any helpful information, you are urged to call 1-800-873-TIPS. Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.