ST. PETERSBURG — K’Mia Simmons was the baby of her family, the youngest of seven.
She dreamed of becoming a gynecologist, loved listening to her brother’s music and stayed out of trouble. She studied nursing at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. And she was totally committed to her daughters, ages 1 and 2, the older born in 2018 just a week before Simmons graduated from Boca Ciega High School.
Simmons’ family painted a picture of their K’Mia on Thursday — and asked for help solving her killing.
Mother and daughters were driving back Tuesday after placing a down payment for the younger girl’s upcoming birthday party. Then, while stopped at a red light at 18th Avenue S and 22nd Street S, St. Petersburg police say someone started shooting into the car.
Simmons, 21, was killed in the passenger seat while her younger daughter sat in her lap. Bullets barely missed the 2-year-old in the back seat, police said. The man driving them — believed to be the intended target of the shooting and identified by Simmons’ family as the younger daughter’s father, Parise Lovett Jr. — left the scene of the shooting and has yet not spoken to police in person.
“When all of that took place, she was a real mom,” said K’Mia’s mother, Linda Simmons. “She covered her baby with her body to make sure that nothing happened to her baby.”
The mother and K’Mia Simmons’ siblings held a news conference at St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters and begged anyone with information about the shooting to come forward — especially Lovett.
“Whoever took my sister from us, you got a mom,” said older sister Lashawn Laster. “Y’all got sisters. Y’all got a family. If it was y’all’s family, you’d want someone to come forward.”
Lovett could not be reached for comment.
K’Mia Simmons’ death marked the 12th homicide recorded by St. Petersburg police in 2021, which in just three months is close to eclipsing the 15 homicides reported in 2020, said police Chief Anthony Holloway. Her death was one of two slayings that took place Tuesday, though police said they do not believe they are related. Two arrests were made in the death of 19-year-old D’quaz Davis.
Linda Simmons, who has served on local redevelopment boards and task forces and worked on campaigns for Jeb Bush and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, said a task force is needed to combat the city’s spiking violence.
“It’s really sad when we have to go through this,” she said. “I’m not the first family, and until we get this system cleaned up, I won’t be the last.”
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The two days since the shooting have pummeled the family, they said, especially K’Mia Simmons’ daughters. The older one watched her die. The youngest won’t eat, drink or sleep. She cries for hours on end. Laster said she keeps thinking about all the moments in their lives that her sister will miss.
“She don’t get to walk her kids down the aisle,” she said. “She don’t get to see the first day of school. ... There’s two beautiful little girls that this is gonna affect for the rest of their lives.”
The sister added: “She was somebody, and she was loved beyond — it ain’t even words. I can’t even come up with no words of what she meant to us.”
Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information in this case. Anyone with information can call 1-800-873-8477.