Dajha Richards, 19, was remembered as “fighter” and a “loving mother” at a candlelight vigil Wednesday night outside her home in south Sacramento. The vigil comes a day after she was shot to death in an apparent domestic violence dispute, according to authorities and family members.
“A community grieves in this unfortunate death, that didn’t have to happen, that could’ve been prevented” said Berry Accius, a community activist and founder of Voice of the Youth. “The only mistake Dajha had was that she loved whoever, no matter what, too hard, and it cost her her life.”
Richards was allegedly shot by her boyfriend, Damion Marc Horton, 20, outside the home on Orchard Woods Circle she shared with her mother and siblings, according to Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department officials and those at the vigil.
“Us black men in the black community do not tolerate domestic violence or abuse to our women,” Accius said. “We will not tolerate that behavior.”
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Richards had been in an long-term relationship with Horton and had given birth to their child in September. According to Tranisha Boyd, a friend of Richards’ family, she was apparently trying to end the relationship before the shooting happened.
Horton allegedly fled the scene, touching off a manhunt, after the shooting, the sheriff’s department said.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived within three minutes of the 911 call and reported Richards had a “gunshot wound to the chest” and an officer was applying pressure to the wound, according to police radio communications obtained through Broadcastify. Richards can be heard talking in the background as a deputy relayed updates of her condition, her voice distressed and words inaudible. Richards was transported to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
Deputies launched an hours-long manhunt Tuesday using K9s and a helicopter to find Horton, but could not locate him. Horton turned himself in Wednesday after officials released his name and photo, identifying him as a suspect in the shooting. His mother, Yolanda Smith, was arrested early Wednesday on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact, deputies said in a news release.
“My baby’s gone,” said Richards’ mother, Ebony Douglas, through tears. “I feel so empty, I feel so lost. She didn’t deserve this. Nineteen years of life just taken from her.”
Richards’ family stood grief-stricken and huddled around her infant son, Kash, as people spelled out Dajha in candles and arranged flowers on the sidewalk in front of her home.
Despite struggling with sickle cell anemia throughout her life and often needing blood transfusions, Richards was “always smiling,” Boyd said.
“She was sick a lot, but anything she could do, she would do,” said Alisha Toney, Richards’ aunt. “She was a lovable person. She liked to laugh or she liked to make other people laugh.”
“She was amazing with her baby,” said Dr. Jo Chung, who treated Richards for more than three years. “She was making the right decisions because her son was the most important thing to her.”
On Jan. 2, in a Facebook post, Richards said “I know me & Damion go thru s--- but EVERYBODY & THEY MOMMAS know I love dat boy to death. I know my baby a hot head ...”
Horton and Smith are being held without bail in Sacramento County Main Jail, according to jail logs. Smith’s next court appearance is Friday; Horton’s arraignment has yet to be determined.