It was a child's worst nightmare.
Porsha Owens of St. Louis was in her school safety officer’s uniform, trying to load her three kids into the car Monday morning for daycare. That’s when her neighbor allegedly sprang from behind her house with a gun, demanding her keys. He opened fire on the children's mother as they stood helpless.
Mark Haywood, 18, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Owens. Owens staggered across the street, bloodied, as her children, ages 3, 4, and 8 watched, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Owens, a safety officer in the Riverview Gardens School District, and her children had only moved into the neighborhood days before the shooting. Haywood, who lived nearby, had previously spotted Owens’ white Dodge Charger and wanted to steal it, cops said, according to the Riverfront Times.
Haywood allegedly confronted the family with his shirt pushed over his mouth and said, “Give me your money and your car keys,” according to an account by Owen’s 8-year-old son to his relatives.
Owens was carrying her gun at the time, but cops didn’t say if she resisted the robbery. Haywood allegedly fired twice, but hitting Owens once. He then allegedly took her gun, keys and purse. Haywood could not get the car to start, according to prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch, and he ran off on foot.
Owens’ 8-year-old son told his two siblings to hide under the car while he went for help. All three children were next to the mother when an ambulance came soon after. She died at a local hospital later that day.
Cops arrested Haywood Tuesday night and said they found two guns, along with some items they believe belonged to Owens, in his home. They would not say if the guns were Owens’ or if one was used to kill her.
Haywood is in jail on $1 million cash bond for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
“I’m trying to comprehend what is going on with our people, why they are killing one another,” Owens’ grandmother Fannie King told the Post-Dispatch.
“I talked to the children,” she said. “The two smaller ones, they don’t comprehend she’s not coming back. The older one, he knows.”
As of Thursday morning, a GoFundMe page set up for Owens’ children had raised more than $144,000 on a $50,000 goal. The school district described her as a “treasured member” of its community.
[Photo: St. Louis County Police Department and Yvette King]