Family of Kristyana Jackson recounts assault

Kristyana Jackson's family talks about the assault and the response from the community.
Posted on Sept. 23, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

Inside Kimi and John Jackson’s living room, the essence of their daughter Kristyana remains.

That essence lies in the numerous pictures on the shelves and walls; in the large bag of letters from community members showing support; in the corner where stuffed bears, deflating balloons and large framed pictures of an ever-smiling Kristyana are piled around her favorite Dora the Explorer table.

“This was always her corner anyways,” Kimi smiles as she remembers small details about her daughter.

She would sit at that corner of the living room to eat her snacks and watch movies on her portable DVD player. She would draw and write letters to her parents and sing to Beyonce in the car.

But the happy memories are obscured by the pain of the present.

“People say, ‘Take it a day at a time,’ but it’s more like every second that’s different,” John Jackson said. “It’s kind of surreal at times.”

Many questions remain from the night of Aug. 17, when three individuals assaulted Kimi and Kristyana.

The two were walking into their home from a high school football game when three men encountered them.

As soon as she saw the men running toward them, Kimi started screaming. John, who was in the living room watching football with John Jr., ran outside as soon as he heard his wife yelling. That’s when one of the men started shooting.

“One of them started pushing me, so I just couldn’t get to (Kristyana), and they just shot and they took off running,” Kimi said.

Among what seemed like random shooting, John was hit on his arm and back, and Kristyana on her head.

A neighbor who heard the shots and the screams ran to help.

“He heard me screaming and John went out the front, and when he realized Kristyana was shot, (John) ran out the front and started screaming: ‘My daughter’s been shot.’ And he heard us so he came running.”

The neighbor took Kristyana to the living room, grabbed a blanket on one of the couches and wrapped it around her head, applying pressure until medics arrived.

While they waited in the living room, Kimi and her neighbor talked to Kristyana, telling her everything was going to be fine. Kimi said she remembers Kristyana squeezing her hand twice before the ambulance arrived.

John was taken to Elkhart General Hospital and released soon after.

Kristyana was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where she died two days later.

Investigators have no new information on the case, said Lt. Laura Koch, public information officer at the Elkhart Police Department.

The uncertainty has left the family little sense of safety or reassurance.

“To me if (the suspects) can do that, what won’t they do?” John said.

Community support

The family is holding strong because of 8-month-old son John Jr. and because of extensive support from the community.

On Aug. 20, the night of Kristyana’s vigil, hundreds of supporters stopped by to talk with Kimi and John. Neighbors and friends made a memorial outside the Jackson residence with candles and balloons. A friend of the family brought them a small bench for the memorial.

Many others in the community have held fundraisers and donated money for the family. Kimi and John said they continue to see the same support a month later.

“She had quite a few good friends, they’ll still come every now and then, on their bikes and sit out for a few seconds, for 10 or 15 seconds, and then keep going, but they still come by here,” John said.

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