ELKHART — They came from all over, bearing flowers, balloons, candles and stuffed animals. Cars lined the surrounding blocks as hundreds of people gathered at Kristyana Jackson's house on Monday evening to remember the 7-year-old girl who died Sunday.
Kristyana Jackson died at Memorial Hospital in South Bend on Sunday after suffering a gunshot wound to the head as a result of a home invasion robbery on Friday. Her father, John Jackson, was treated and released on Friday at Elkhart General Hospital.
Kristyana was a second-grader at Mary Daly Elementary. The girl and her mother, Kimi Jackson, were coming back from the Elkhart Memorial and Central high school football game on Friday when they were rushed by three men in front of their house.
The Elkhart Police Department is investigating the case and are looking for the three men. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the EPD at 295-7070.
Baskets were distributed to help pay for funeral arrangements. There is a fund started at Key Bank to raise money for a reward for Crime Stoppers in return for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the people responsible.
Wearing a T-shirt with a picture of his daughter on it, John Jackson told the crowd to hug their children. “Don't sweat the small stuff,” he said. His left arm was in a sling.
“Amazing Grace” broke out in the crowd. One of the employees at the day care where Kristyana had gone since she was 9 months old handed out a bunch of pink and purple balloons to the other children in the day care, who all released them together. Some got stuck in the tree at the Jacksons' home while most floated away. Funeral arrangements are still pending.
Michael Spann, one of Kristyana's cousins, attended Monday night's vigil. Still in shock, he said he would remember Kristyana with a “smile on her face that she always had.”
Freda Johnson, whose stepson also went to Mary Daly Elementary, found out about Kristyana's death through Faceboook. She lives in the neighborhood with her family and said that are lots of cops in the area as well.
Her daughter, Ashley Johnson, said she made Kristyana's death her Facebook status to let everyone know. Timothy Bravo, her stepbrother, said he would remember her as a “really good artist.”
“She was a really good friend,” he said.