An outgoing personality. An older sister who helped raise her brothers, and the mother of three young kids herself. An aspiring business owner. A baker, and a generous friend.
This is how Nicolshia Washington will be remembered, her family said.
The 25-year-old was fatally shot after her ex-boyfriend and her boyfriend began shooting at each other at a Clearwater apartment on Jan. 8, police said. Her ex-boyfriend was there to drop off their 7-year-old daughter, who was also injured in the shooting. Washington was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital, where she died later that night. Her daughter, La’Sandra Delapierre, was taken to All Children’s Hospital and discharged the next day.
“I’m still trying to make sense of it,” said Sarah Miller, Washington’s mother. “I’m still trying to understand what happened.”
Police have arrested Washington’s ex-boyfriend, 28-year-old Lavaris Delapierre, in connection with her death. He faces charges of felony murder, armed burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Washington’s boyfriend, 22-year-old Stacy Cross, is not currently facing charges.
Washington grew up with Delapierre after meeting him in their neighborhood when she was 15, Miller said. They dated off and on, but for the past four or five years were dating other people, Miller said. She started dating Cross about eight months ago, her mother said.
The shooting broke out at an apartment on the 600 block of Fairwood Avenue in Clearwater about 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, police said.
Delapierre had gotten into an argument with Washington while dropping off their daughter at the apartment, police said. He pushed his way into the unit, knocking Washington into a television, according to arrest affidavits.
Washington tried to push Delapierre out of the apartment, court documents state. During the struggle, Cross came out of the back of the apartment, police said. Both men were armed and began shooting at each other, according to arrest affidavits. In interviews with police, Delapierre admitted to forcing his way into the apartment, but denied possessing a gun or shooting at Cross, “contrary to physical and ballistic evidence,” according to court documents.
In a jail interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Delapierre denied the police account of the shooting. He said when he went to drop off his daughter, he could only see Washington and her two sons in the apartment. Delapierre said Cross began firing a gun from the kitchen without asking any questions.
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“He just started shooting,” Delapierre said.
Cross could not be reached at a phone number listed under public records. A Tampa Bay Times reporter left a note for Cross seeking comment at an address listed for him in court records from 2020. Cross didn’t respond to the request.
Miller said Washington loved dancing and going to the park. She worked at Tasty Wings on 54th Avenue South in St. Petersburg and also styled hair on the side. In addition to her daughter, La’Sandra, Washington is survived by two sons, ages 1 and 4.
“Nicolshia was a fun-loving, caring person,” Miller, 48, said.
As the oldest child in her family, Washington helped her mom take care of her younger brothers, who are now 22 and 14.
“Sometimes she wanted to be my mama,” Miller said with a laugh.
Washington wanted to start a business — perhaps in fashion or cooking, family members said. She would always let friends stay in her small apartment when they fell on hard times, said Chyna Mills, Washington’s aunt.
“It was a one-bedroom,” Mills, 43, said. “And one time, I think she had about 20 people staying in there who were homeless.”
Washington loved making colorful desserts, her family said. For Christmas, Washington brought pink and blue cupcakes to her family’s celebration.
“She’d put two desserts together you’d never heard of and make a dessert,” Mills said.
Whether it was going clubbing with her brother and friends or throwing a birthday party, Washington always loved spending time with people, her brother, Zeykyeth Washington, 22, said.
“(You) could always catch her outside doing something,” he said.
Miller is no stranger to grief; when she was 27, Nicolshia and Zeykyeth’s father was killed in a shooting in St. Petersburg.
“My energy came from just raising my kids and seeing them be happy,” she said.
Miller said she doesn’t know all the details of what took place in her daughter’s apartment the night of the shooting. But she’s still in shock that her only daughter was shot.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I just know my daughter was killed.”
The family is raising funds for funeral expenses and Washington’s kids. To donate, visit the family’s GoFundMe.
Correction: Photo captions in a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the name of Community Action Stops Abuse.