BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Four days after 32-year-old mother Shaneva Riley’s death, friends and family gathered at Wayside Park to pray, during a vigil that brought out mourning, anger, and frustration against the destruction caused on Black lives by violence.
Riley was killed Saturday night after someone fired into a crowd during a memorial. Riley’s mother, Lasheka Hendrix, said every year they gather to celebrate her son-in-law’s birthday. She said she nearly went herself, but didn’t. She couldn’t know it would be the last time she would hear from her daughter, who Hendrix said was her best friend.
“I’m here because I want justice for my daughter,” said Hendrix, holding on to her family for support. “That’s why I’m here, for her children.”
Riley leaves behind 4 children, the oldest being 11 years old. Family members said she was devoted to her kids. Her oldest brother, Clifford Riley, fought back tears while describing what it was like to see her lifeless body.
“You don’t know the pain until it happens to you,” Clifford said. “I close my eyes, all I see is my sister.”
Someone who does understand that pain is Wesley Davis III, who hugged Clifford after telling him how his own brother, Wendale Davis, was killed in a shooting in 2006. Davis III challenged Bakersfield to take a stand.
“I’m asking that we protest as loud as we did for everybody else from another city…make every Black folk from Bakersfield California, from every side uncomfortable, until they turn the cowards in that did this bull crap,” Davis told the crowd.
The prayer vigil was organized by the Wendale Davis Foundation — the Davis family’s non-profit that works to help young people at risk of falling into gangs or violent lifestyles. Wendale’s father, Wesley Davis, Jr., said Shaneva’s family had been there for him after he lost his son all those years ago.
“This is sick, for anyone to think it’s OK to ride up on anybody and shoot through a crowd of people,” Davis Jr. said. But, the Davis family and Bakersfield NAACP president Patrick Jackson stressed change couldn’t come until people were willing to turn suspects, no matter who they were.
“We need to love on each other a little bit more because these types of things should not happen in our community,” Jackson said. “It’s going to take each and every one of us.”
Also offering their support to Riley’s family were District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, Assistant DA Andrea Kohler, and the non-profit Mothers Against Gang Violence.
No suspects have been announced in the shooting. District Attorney Zimmer encouraged people to give tips to investigators through the anonymous Kern Secret Witness line, 661-322-4040.