Community ‘takes care of its own,’ buys shooting victim a headstone

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More than four years after her death, a pregnant mother of three is finally getting a headstone.

Denise Jackson, who was 25 and lived at 2634 Ken Karyl Ave., and her unborn child were shot and killed as she was trying to protect two of her children when gunfire erupted in the street. Jackson was crouched behind a couch when a bullet went though the exterior wall, though the couch and struck her in the chest, according to autopsy reports.

The convicted shooter, Eric DeShawn Jackson, 30, is serving a life sentence for killing Denise Jackson, her unborn child and Preston Qualls, who lived at 1523 Ethel St. Eric Jackson is not related to Denise Jackson, and the families are still friends, said family friend, Annie Chiles.

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“We have him on the prayer list every Sunday,” Chiles said.

During Eric Jackson’s trial, prosecutors said he opened fire in the street with an AK-47 after an argument over a PlayStation 2 game.

“Even when I got here and saw it, I couldn’t understand, especially after hearing how it happened,” Michael Jackson Sr. said.

After burying Denise Jackson, and her grandfather Lucius in 2011, the family could not afford a headstone for Denise, Michael Jackson Sr. said. Members of Douglas Park Community Services took up donations and gave Michael Jackson Sr. a check Tuesday for the $786 grave marker.

“The community stepped in to let us know that they loved us,” Michael Jackson Sr. said.

Family members who gathered Tuesday said they were grateful for the closure of finally being able to place a marker on Denise Jackson’s grave.

“I really appreciate the community coming together and doing this for the family,” said Denise’s brother, Micheal Jackson Jr.

The headstone is expected to be placed in the next two weeks, Micheal Jackson Sr. said.

“The grieving stage is just about gone,” he said.

Members of Douglas Park Community Services stepped in and raised donations for the headstone to show that violence cannot divide the neighborhood, said Alonzo Stevens.

“This community has always prided itself in taking care of its own,” Stevens said.

Stevens, 60, who retired last year as head football coach at Vicksburg High School, grew up in Douglas Park and said the shooting was a senseless act of violence.

“Never in my life has an incident like that happened in the community,” he said.

Chiles said she was moved to help because of her strong connection to Douglas Park and the family of Denise Jackson. Lucius Jackson, who witnessed the shooting and died in June 2011, taught Bible study at Chiles’ church, and she remembers spending time at his home as a child.

“This child was not my child, but it felt like she was my child,” Chiles said.