Sojourner Family Peace Center creates special fund to help pay for funerals of domestic violence victims

MILWAUKEE — Officials with the Sojourner Family Peace Center, which advocates for domestic violence victims, is seeking donations for the funeral of Nya Hammond and other victims of domestic violence. A special “Sojourner Emergency Fund” has been established for this purpose.

Nya Hammond

Nya Hammond

19-year-old Hammond was shot and killed on September 26th — allegedly by her estranged boyfriend. She found dead in a parking lot in the 400 block of W. River Woods Parkway, off of Port Washington Road in Glendale.

21-year-old Pierre Gardner is facing one count of first degree reckless homicide with use of a dangerous weapon in this case.

Pierre Gardner

Pierre Gardner

According to a criminal complaint, police were called out to the area in Glendale around 5:30 a.m. on September 26th after receiving calls regarding a person lying on the ground in a parking lot.

When officials arrived on scene, they found Hammond, who had been shot.

FOX6’s Myra Sanchick spoke with Hammond’s mother on September 28th — who described her daughter as a dedicated mother to her three-year-old son, PJ, and a hard worker — getting up at 5:00 a.m. to clean the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin in the River Woods Parkway in Glendale.

19-year-old Milwaukee woman found shot, killed in parking lot in Glendale

19-year-old Milwaukee woman found shot, killed in parking lot in Glendale

19-year-old Milwaukee woman found shot, killed in parking lot in Glendale

19-year-old Milwaukee woman found shot, killed in parking lot in Glendale

The criminal complaint states that Hammond’s grandmother told investigators Hammond would sometimes get a ride to work from Gardner, therefore he was aware of where she worked and knew her schedule.

Hammond’s mother told FOX6 News Hammond left Gardner earlier in September due to domestic violence.

“She kind of kept it quiet because I guess she didn’t want to feel ashamed or want us to think we were ashamed of her or you’re stupid for going back with him,” Hammond’s mother, Shalonda Hammond said.

Shalonda Hammond

Shalonda Hammond

Shalonda Hammond said on September 12th, Gardner allegedly beat her with an extension cord.

“She was at work one morning and she sent me a text and said ‘this is why I left him.’ And then a couple pictures popped up and she was in the bathroom taking pictures of where he beat her with an extension cord,” Shalonda Hammond said.

Nya Hammond wounds

Nya Hammond wounds

Shalonda Hammond said her daughter had made contact with police, but hadn’t filed an official report.

On September 26th, Hammond traveled to the hospital to work by bus, as shown in security video.

According to the criminal complaint, hospital security video showed the suspect vehicle, a gray 1992 Nissan Maxima, pulling into the hospital parking lot at approximately 5:11 a.m., leaving at 5:16 a.m., then returning at 5:35 a.m. — as though the driver “was waiting for or looking for someone.”

At approximately 5:36 a.m., the driver of the Nissan is seen exiting the vehicle and meeting with what appeared to be Hammond in the parking lot. According to the criminal complaint, the two are seen in the hospital security video walking back to the vehicle and getting inside.

The criminal complaint states at approximately 5:39 a.m., the Nissan is captured on video approaching the Port Washington driveway, and while parked at the entrance to the driveway, the passenger believed to be Hammond, exits the vehicle and appears to move quickly.

Officials say the video appears to show the driver exit the vehicle and there is a quick flash on the driver’s side, “consistent with a muzzle flash, as though the driver shot the passenger.”

Authorities recovered a .380 caliber fired casing near the Port Washington driveway, along with a women’s purple winter hat — later identified as being Hammond’s by her family.

19-year-old Milwaukee woman found shot, killed in parking lot in Glendale

19-year-old Milwaukee woman found shot, killed in parking lot in Glendale

Nya Hammond

Nya Hammond

Officials were able to identify the Nissan as belonging to Gardner. It matched the description given of the vehicle by Hammond’s mother and grandmother. They had both reported seeing Gardner driving the same vehicle on previous occasions.

According to the criminal complaint, officials interviewed Gardner’s mother, who stated after she found out about the shooting and was told it appeared her son had killed Hammond, she went to her mother’s house where she found Gardner sitting in a bathtub. She asked Gardner if he killed Hammond, at which point, according to the complaint, Gardner did not answer but rather looked at (his mother) “in a way she had never seen before.”

Officials state in the criminal complaint that Gardner’s mother began to cry during the interview, and stated to officers she did not recognize the person in the tub as her son. She then told police she asked Gardner where he would have gotten the gun from, but “he just stared at her.”

Pierre Gardner

Pierre Gardner

Gardner was arrested and if convicted, he faces up to 65 years in prison.

Officials with the Sojourner Family Peace Center say intimate partner homicides like this one are up 100% (four to eight) in Milwaukee when compared with the same time in 2015, while intimate partner shootings have increased 7005% (from one to eight).

In each of these cases, the couples impacted had a history of domestic violence, either in their current or past relationship.

Sojourner Family Peace Center officials say the average cost for a funeral in 2016 is $7,000 — so when an unexpected death, such as the intimate partner homicides mentioned above, occurs, many families must take out loans to cover funeral costs.

To help ease the burden, the Sojourner Family Peace Center has created the “Sojourner Emergency Fund.”

Due to the increased number of intimate partner homicides in 2016, and in an effort to lessen the burden in the midst of grief, Sojourner is seeking donations to help cover funeral costs for Milwaukee families who unexpectedly lost a loved one to domestic violence.

Nya Hammond

Nya Hammond

CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about the Sojourner Emergency Fund — or to make a donation in the wake of the death of Nya Hammond.

Meanwhile, Sojourner encourages neighbors, colleagues, friends and families to reach out to the Sojourner Family Peace Center’s 24-hour confidential Domestic Violence Hotline: 414-933-2722. Sojourner Advocates can help answer questions on what to do if you are being hurt, if you know someone who is hurting, or if you are hurting someone.

Below are more resources for those impacted by domestic violence:

LINKS: Helpful resources for those affected by domestic violence

Sojourner Family Peace Center 24-hour domestic violence hotline: 414-933-2722

Milwaukee Women’s Center hotline numbers: 
24-Hour Crisis Line:  (414) 671-6140
Domestic Violence Hotline:  (414) 933-2722
National Domestic Violence Hotline:  (800) 799-SAFE

Emergency shelter for domestic violence victims:
Milwaukee Women’s Center’s Shelter:  (414) 671-6140
Sojourner Family Peace Center   (414) 933-2722
Waukesha Women’s Center   (262) 542-3828

Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin