Friends and relatives of a family gunned down in a Richmond murder-suicide believe that the carnage might have been witnessed by the children of one of the victims.
The body of 24-year-old Shaquenda Walker was located inside of the Oliver Crossing Apartments unit she shared with her two children and her mother, Deborah Walker, 54, on Thursday morning, the New York Post reports. According to members of the police squad, both of the Walker women were shot and killed by Shaquenda’s boyfriend, 23-year-old Walter Gaines III (seen above), sometime on Tuesday before he ultimately turned the gun on himself inside of the Coalter Street residence.
Walker’s children, both said to be under the age of 5, were found to be physically unharmed and placed in the care of family members. Police reportedly could not give an exact timeframe as to how long Ms. Walker’s offspring were locked in the home with the dead bodies, but her family’s pastor remarked that they more than likely saw every violent moment.
“They witnessed murder,” Rev. Sharon Broaddus from Richmond’s St. Paul’s Baptist Church stated to WVTR about the murder-suicide. “Their bodies have been in there two days and it has to have [had] an effect on the children.”
A psychologist from nearby Virginia Commonwealth University, Micah McCreary, concurred that Ms. Walker’s son and daughter might have a rough road to traverse as they get older because of what they possibly witnessed.
“Hopefully they ran and hid and didn’t look at it,” Mr. McCreary offered, “but there’s no telling.”
A spokesperson for Richmond Police relayed to the Post that Gaines, a career criminal who racked up numerous past arrests on robbery and felony accessory charges, as WRIC explains, was not the father of Walker’s children, but he apparently had been living there for sometime with the Walker family.
On the day of their deaths, Gaines purportedly had a court date related to an unknown crime.
“Police sources said that Gaines was expected for a court appearance in Henrico County Thursday,” reporters for WRIC expressed. “The bodies were discovered by family members who had intended to drive him to court.”
Erica Crumble, Shaquenda Walker’s cousin, further shared with WRIC that the two children, a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, managed to find their way outside of their mother’s apartment and began knocking on neighbors’ doors Thursday morning to inform them that “their mom and grandma weren’t waking up.”
“I feel bad [that] her children [had] to witness and go through that,” Ms. Crumble remarked.
An actual time of death for the Walkers and their killer has not yet been determined, but should be known in the coming weeks pending full autopsies.
Speaking to reporters outside of the Walker home, Police Chief Alfred Durham and Richmond mayor Police Chief Levar Stoney considered the murder-suicide to be a “senseless” act of violence.
“This [is] something that’s not random,” Mayor Stoney stated. “It [just] seems very isolated, like some of the acts that happened in the past. Please continue to help the chief — if you know something, say something.”
Durham also conveyed his frustration over the incident.
“This is the third day that we’re investigating deaths in the city,” he said, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch notes. “This has to stop. This is not the city of Richmond. We experienced this 20 years ago, and we don’t want to go back to where we were then.”
Other residents inside of the complex asserted to law enforcement that they did not hear any gunshots or loud sounds coming from the Walker home on Tuesday, something that Rev. Broadus, who additionally serves as a faith healer for the Richmond Police Department, wholly disbelieves.
“The neighbors or somebody had to hear something, [but] they did not report it,” she proclaimed, before going on to say that the ongoing refusals to report such crimes are part of a greater problem.
“[The silence] says that we have become cold [and] indifferent,” the reverend acknowledged about acts similar to that of the Richmond murder-suicide. “It’s like [it’s] is the norm, when it shouldn’t be.”
[Featured Image by Henrico County Sheriff’s Office]