When the news broke about the two children sleeping in a storage unit last month, Fox Five News called Cheri Zeman. As executive director of United Community Ministries, she represents the needy, and the news producers wanted to know if “people really lived like that.” She assured them that they did, and connected them with a UCM client and employee Shawnta Alvarez, who was subsequently featured on last week’s segment titled “Living on the Edge.” In the program, Alvarez talked about how even though she works part-time, she needs the services provided by UCM to care for herself and her child.
After last week, Alvarez needs those services even more. Alvarez and her family now need to come up with $1,500 to pay for a funeral for her sister, Shawndre Fulton, who was found shot to death in the Mount Vernon Woods Park. Her body was found on Thursday, Nov. 25, around 1:30 a.m., when police were called to the 4000 block of Fielding Street for a report of a body found in the park.
Fulton was shot in the upper body, and was eight months pregnant. Police are investigating and would like to speak with Darius T. Hicks, who is a person of interest in this case. Hicks was last known to live in the Seven Woods area of Fairfax County.
Zeman said that she bought an outfit for Alvarez to wear to the funeral service; UCM has also set up a victim’s fund for the family to help defray costs associated with the death.
IN THE MEANTIME, the family is not only dealing with how to pay for the funeral, but the tragedy itself. Alvarez said that the police came to her mother’s house early on Thanksgiving morning to tell them about the shooting. When Alvarez, who lives elsewhere, received the call, she said she grabbed her Bible, and thought, “Please don’t let it be her.”
“Whoever thought it would be like this?” said Fulton’s step-father, as he lamented on what he perceived to be the escalating violence in this area.
Fulton’s younger sister said, “We used to hang out with each other.”
Fulton’s step-father said that Fulton just wanted to be with Hicks and would follow him wherever he was staying. While the police list his last known address as Seven Woods, the family wasn’t sure that he ever lived there. Alvarez said that her sister met Hicks before her 20th birthday and was seeing him secretly. She also said that Fulton attended Walt Whitman Middle School, Mount Vernon High School and Bryant Adult Alternative School. She was taking courses before she was killed and had dreams of going to college.
“She was really optimistic and had her whole life ahead of her. She always used her imagination and liked reading and love songs,” Alvarez said.
And even though Fulton already had two children, she was excited about having a third baby. She told her sister, “It’s my baby and I’m going to do whatever I can to take care of it.”
MPO GREG KOTTEMANN, Crime Prevention Officer, said that this is Mount Vernon’s fourth homicide for the year; the eighth for Fairfax County. The other three Mount Vernon cases have all been solved; the most recent one being the case where Nelson Noe Moreno, of Bedford Terrace, stabbed an acquaintance, Maria J. Alvarenga, 27 with a knife. Moreno was arrested and charged with murder.
In April, Christian J. Aranzana-Vasquez, of 6400 block of Pickett Street in the Beacon Hill area, was shot in the parking lot of the Days Inn located on Richmond Highway. Suspects have been apprehended and charged in that case, as they were in another previous case with two brothers.
While all four homicides have been the result of domestic or related violence, the community is still concerned. The staff of Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School has a clear view of Mount Vernon Woods Park through their office windows. Reginald Romaine, principal, could not comment on the situation, but said that the school community is concerned.
Alvarez hopes that if anyone knows anything about the shooting that they will call the police.
“It could happen to anybody. My sister couldn’t hurt anybody. I don’t see how anyone could do this,” Alvarez said.