Community members gathered Saturday night at a vigil celebrating the life of a 19-month-old who died tragically earlier this month.
“None of this should have happened,” said Venacia Atoque, a friend of the toddler’s family. “We should all be here at the park playing with her, not lighting candles.”
Family, friends, community members and bikers gathered at Mirabeau Meadows Park to remember 19-month-old Azaelia Raine RedHorse Jones, who police say died under suspicious circumstances while in the care of her mother’s boyfriend.
Those who attended said the amount of emotion and pain at the event showed just how much the young child meant to the family and community.
”Everyone here today shows that this child mattered,” said Monica Jouwsma, a Spokane resident.
A picture board of Azaelia showcased the life of the toddler, and allowed those unfamiliar to get a glimpse of the clear happiness she brought her family.
“She was the most beautiful baby ever,” said Rachel Silk, Azaelia’s grandmother.
“So many friends and family didn’t get to see her as much as they wanted to because of the pandemic.”
Those who knew Azaelia well described her as an unbridled joy.
“She loved people to be around her, no one was a stranger to her,” Atoque said. “She is one of the best little girls I’ve ever met.”
The biker group Guardians of the Children helped the family organize the event.
On Aug. 4, law enforcement responded to a medical call of a toddler who could not breathe on her own and had severe injuries.
Law enforcement transported the toddler, now known to be Azaelia, to the hospital, but she died two days later, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner.
Mickey E. Brown Jr., the 19-year-old boyfriend of Azaelia’s mother, was taking care of the toddler while the mother was working. Brown told detectives he had been running with the infant in his arms after she started to have a seizure, then he tripped and fell on her, police have said.
A doctor who treated Azaelia before her death told detectives the injuries matched a nonaccidental, intentionally inflicted type of child abuse.
Brown was charged with first-degree assault. He pleaded not guilty to the assault charge and to an outstanding third-degree theft charge during his first appearance in court on Monday.
The family has set up a Facebook page for donations to help cover funeral services.
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