Family mourns Jackson Reed students found dead in DC hotel

The last thing Toni Cole knew was that her daughter was due to go to the cinema on Saturday – and she had asked permission to spend the night at a friend’s house. Cole said she last spoke to 18-year-old Akira Wilson around 8:35 p.m. and the two should have met a little later.

Cole said she dozed off and had a bad feeling when she woke up about two and a half hours later and couldn’t reach her daughter. By that time, police had found the high school student fatally shot at a Hilton Garden Inn in northeast Washington.

Police have described her death as a homicide and said they are looking for a person of interest. Several teenagers – including some under the age of 18 – have been shot dead in the district in recent months, including a 15-year-old who was shot and wounded on a subway train and another 15-year-old who was shot dead while sitting on a subway train Veranda.

“I want my daughter so much. It’s so hard because as a mom, I could help with anything she needed help with,” said Cole. “I can’t fix this and I don’t know how to deal with not being able to fix this. I will never see my daughter again.”

Cole said their daughter is a senior at Jackson-Reed High School. She also took math and psychology courses at Trinity Washington University in hopes of getting a jump start on college work, according to relatives and the school.

Cole said her daughter hoped to attend Florida State University and major in funeral sciences. Wilson wanted to open her own funeral home, which her mother and grandmother were willing to put their retirement savings into. Trinity Washington University President Pat McGuire said in a statement that Wilson was on the high school roll of honor and worked with the Tourism, Hotel and Hospitality Academy and that her death was “a great loss to her family and her schools and the wider community.” DC community.”

“She had a big heart and wanted to help in any way she could,” said Cole. “Someone was selfish enough to take my daughter away from me. She didn’t deserve this.”

On Tuesday, around a hundred of Wilson’s friends, classmates and relatives gathered at Jackson-Reed High School to release balloons in her memory.

Simona Spicciani-Gerhardt, who teaches Italian at Jackson-Reed and had Wilson as one of her students, recalled once volunteering to make and sell 2,000 individually wrapped desserts for a field day last year. Spicciani-Gerhardt said the students organized a bake sale on Monday to raise money to support Wilson’s family.

“She was a hard worker and that’s the spirit I remember and love about her,” Spicciani-Gerhardt said.

Police have not said what they think sparked the shooting, and Cole said she doesn’t understand how her daughter could have become a murder victim.

She said after 12 calls to her daughter on Saturday, she texted Wilson, “I pray you’re okay,” and said she was “on her way” to the friend’s house, where she thinks Wilson was staying . She said another relative soon told her to go to the hotel on the 1200 block of First Street NE.

“I don’t even remember how I reacted because I was so angry,” said Cole. “I didn’t want Akira in this area.”

Wilson’s grandmother, Dawn Perry, called the news “devastating” and said no parent should bury their own child.

“They just got back from Mexico on Monday and she passed away on Saturday,” Perry said. “She was special and a happy child.”

Cole said her daughter is her best friend and “came into my room every morning with my arms outstretched to give me a hug.” She said she’s only been able to go into Wilson’s room once since her death and has held the 18-year-old’s nightgown close to her heart.

Cole said she and Wilson had just completed applications for federal student aid and started early enrollment for colleges.

“I won’t be able to give her the party I gave her for graduation. I will not be able to travel to her college and decorate her room. She wanted to be her biggest and now she can’t,” said Cole. “I’ll never be okay again.”


Categories DC