The night 7-year-old Kristyana Jackson was shot at her home, just a block and a half away Valerie Hicks was working on the back of her house, her front door open and her daughter sleeping in the living room.
Hicks, like other neighbors down Kilbourn Street has lived in the neighborhood for years. She said despite feeling shaken from the home invasion on Friday, Aug. 17, she still feels safe.
“We have a security system, but I think my dog is the best security system we have,” she said. “But that’s unnerving, that a child lost her life through a senseless act.”
Jackson and her mother, Kimi Jackson were rushed by unknown individuals after returning home from a football game. After hearing his wife scream, John Jackson went outside and was shot three times. Kristyana Jackson was shot in the head and then taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where she died Sunday.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Elkhart Police Department did not have any new information on their ongoing investigation, said public information officer Lt. Laura Koch.
The tragic story brought hundreds out to the Jackson residence Monday night, many members of the community showing their support to the family and anger toward the perpetrators.
“They can’t just think they can get into our homes and do this to us,” said a woman who attended the Monday night vigil. “We’re not going to tolerate this. This is a good neighborhood, I don’t want to say it isn’t because it is. But we want to keep it a good neighborhood.”
The woman asked not to be identified because a family member of hers had been a victim of a home invasion a few months ago. However, she said she believed home invasions have become a serious threat to communities.
“Now they come in threes, in groups of five, so what chance do you have?” she said. “The odds are very bad if you’re in your house alone or just two of you and three to five come into your house.”
Hicks, likewise, said she believes “people have gone over the edge.”
“I just think that there’s more dumb people making dumb decisions,” she said. “They were probably wanting to rob someone for $40 to buy drugs, and a little girl lost her life when she should be in school today with her friends.”
In light of the incident on Kilbourn Street and another home invasion on C.R. 12 Wednesday morning, police are increasing their patrols all around the city, Koch said.
“It definitely is a concern, and we will investigate each one that we have, even those cases that have happened in other jurisdictions. We’ll work with other departments to see if they (these cases) are related in any way.”
But some community members also want to increase their watch.
Jason Moreno, an Elkhart resident who lives on Lusher Avenue, attended the vigil on Monday and collected contact information from people interested in having a meeting to discuss neighborhood safety issues. He said two other community members, Paul Bertha and Nicky Markin, have helped him with planning.
“I have a daughter, I was a Mary Daly student when I was growing up. I used to play in that neighborhood, and this recent escalation of violent crimes across the city is generally unnerving,” he said.
Moreno said he is organizing a community-wide meeting for Friday, Sept. 1, though he is still working finding a time and venue for it.
Several public officials, including the Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore, Elkhart Community Schools and the Elkhart Police Department have shown interest in attending the meeting.
What Moreno is hoping to get out of this meeting is a safer community.
“A more involved community. People that are going to not just put the entire weight of security and their family’s safety onto the police department and the city,” he said. “This is an opportunity to galvanize community into working with each other more so than they had in the past.”
Elkhart Truth Reporters Dan Spalding and Marlys Weaver-Stoesz contributed to this story.