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In Harm's Way: Remembering the Life of D'aja Robinson

Monday, June 03, 2013

Fourteen-year-old D'aja Robinson, a giggly honor student known as “Asia,” is the first girl killed by gunfire this year — she was shot two weeks ago doing one of the most ordinary things in South Jamaica: taking a city bus.

D'aja was sitting in a window seat on the Q6 near Baisley Pond Park and Sutphin Blvd. — an area of southeast Queens not serviced by subway or rail service — when she was struck by a bullet police don't believe was intended for her.

Since the shooting, the teen's family has been gathering at the bus stop every evening — almost as if they're sitting Shiva.

"We come here a lot because we felt like she was by herself when she passed,” said Tasha Saint Louis, 33, D’aja’s godmother.” So we just want to be with her another time. … We just want to be with her again and let her know we're still here with her."

There’s also been a steady procession of friends and loved ones who’ve gathered to leave remembrances for the high school freshman under a covered wooden Parks Department bulletin board. 

"She used to be running around my house with me when we were little kids,” Nicolie Bunsie, 16, said as he stared at one of the smiling snapshots tacked up to the wall. “Now it’s sad to see her gone.”

Yasmin Marrow, 16, stopped by the memorial recently to light a candle.

"Anything I felt like I couldn't tell to anyone else, I could definitely tell to Asia,” she said. “She gave really good advice.” Especially about boys, she said.

Family members said that even though D'aja could have been a heart-breaker with the guys, she was focused on her studies and expressing herself through fashion.

Charmaine Smith, 38, a cousin of the teen, said they’d often watch America’s Next Top Model together and D’aja would rifle through her closet just like a stylist.

"Sometimes we would even go to her and ask her advice: ‘Should I wear these shoes with this dress?’ And she would let you know what would look best," Smith said.

D'aja Robinson was laid to rest in a lavender gown with touches of sequins on May 24th. And the girl whose life was ended on the Q6 bus was transported to her final resting place in a horse drawn glass carriage.

Police have yet to apprehend a suspect in the case.

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UPDATE 6/4: The NYPD said a suspect in the case was apprehended in South Carolina on Tuesday. He’s awaiting extradition to New York.

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WNYC is profiling the life of every child in the city killed by gunfire in our series In Harm’s Way.

D'AJA Robinson Fund Facebook
D'aja as a toddler.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
A snapshot of D'aja and her mother at the memorial to the teen where she was shot.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
A reward poster for the shooter at the bus stop.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Images of the girl nicknamed 'Asia' hanging above flowers and other offerings at the memorial.
Courtesy of Stan Gaz
Leaving messages for the teen who was shot after leaving a sweet sixteen party.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Cheryl Sands (left) has been making daily visits to the area where her granddaughter lost her life .
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
A personal message left on the bulletin board.
Courtesy of Stan Gaz
D'aja's mother, Shadia Sands (right), leaving her daughter's funeral.
Courtesy of Stan Gaz
Mourners outside the funeral, wearing pictures of the teen around their neck.
Courtesy of Stan Gaz
More than 2,000 attended the funeral at Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Southeastern Queens where a line snaked around the block.
Courtesy of Stan Gaz
A horse-drawn glass carriage transported D'aja's casket.
Courtesy of Stan Gaz
Rapper 50 Cent, a Queens native, said he paid for the horse and carriage.
Courtesy of Stan Gaz
D'aja Robinson was killed on the Q6 bus in South Jamaica.

Editors:

Xana O'Neill

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Comments [7]

Robin from Indiana

God bless the parents... what the heck, w/ other people... I have 2 daughters, I can't even imagine... God comfort the friends/loveones... :( much hugs

Jun. 10 2013 12:41 PM
Hyaphilo from NYC

Thank you for this excellent piece. It lets us know just a little more about the person than just the news reports about the random shot that killed her. I am sure her family appreciates this.

Jun. 04 2013 12:23 PM
Neil from Austin

Thank you for remembering these children.

Jun. 03 2013 04:49 PM
Susan from West Village

I really appreciate this series. Thank you, WNYC, for broadening the meaning of "news."

Jun. 03 2013 02:11 PM
john from office

We should jail the parents of these young men who are permitted to run wild. There is no parenting going on in these high crime areas.

Jun. 03 2013 01:51 PM

Unbearably sad.

Jun. 03 2013 09:56 AM
William Chan from Metuchen, NJ

I am saddened to hear such promise can be struck down so randomly. How long can we as a society endure acts of violence such as this? How long can the gun lobby remain so adamantly naive to think their advocacy won't change things, that it's not guns? We are awash with firearms and deaths continue due to discharges, accidental or not, yet we are still in paralysis.
I applaud WNYC in humanizing the issue, giving attention to the victims of violence. The segment also dovetails with an opinion I read recently, written by Margaret Sullivan in the NYT titled "Too Little for So Many, Even in The Times"; although she writes about coverage of poverty, I think it's also true that not nearly enough attention is paid to the life and matters relating to minorities. Appalling to think media can shrink from what is so needed, because if it doesn't call the public's attention to how the 'other' side (in the broadest sense) lives society will become more balkanized, with groups living within their on echo chambers, gated communities, silos, etc. numb to the rest other than their own. Again, thank you WNYC.

Jun. 03 2013 08:55 AM

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