Mom and children fatally shot Saturday were looking for better life in Minnesota; man under arrest

Mom and children fatally shot Saturday were looking for better life in Minnesota; man under arrest

A mother and her two children who were killed Saturday in St. Paul had moved to Minnesota for a better life and to be near family, relatives said Sunday.

Authorities have not released the identities of the victims, but family members identified them as 30-year-old D’Zondria Wallace and her 14-year-old daughter La’Porsha and 11-year-old son Ja’Corbie.

Police arrested a 26-year-old man on Sunday night and said he is a person of interest in the triple homicide.

“We endured the unthinkable yesterday, as we lost a young woman & her two children to gun violence,” Mayor Melvin Carter wrote on Twitter on Sunday night. “I appreciate our officers’ swift & thorough work; we must match their efforts with swift & thorough work to end the cycles of violence that plague our (neighborhoods).”

Police were still piecing together the events that led up to the shooting, saying that it was possible though not yet confirmed that it was the result of a domestic dispute.

Wallace and her children were found with apparent gunshot wounds at a home in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood Saturday afternoon.

The St. Paul police SWAT team, with assistance from patrol officers and homicide investigators, took a man into custody without incident about 7:25 p.m. Sunday. He was hiding in an apartment building on the 2100 block of Wilson Avenue, Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote Sunday. Investigators were interviewing him Sunday night.

“Our work isn’t over,” Axtell wrote on Facebook. “We have a long way to go, but we’ve taken some significant steps forward.”

MOTHER ‘LOVED HER CHILDREN WITH HER WHOLE HEART’

Relatives said Sunday evening that Wallace had recently moved to Minnesota from rural Mississippi, hoping to secure a better life for herself and her children.

D’Zondria Wallace, 30, and her 11-year-old son Ja’Corbie were shot and killed Jan. 30, 2021, in their home in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul. Also killed was D’Zondria’s 14-year-old daughter La’Porsha. A person of interest in the case was the following day. (Courtesy of Moesha Whitehall)

“They wanted to be better and they knew with all their hearts that they were going to make it here,” said Jeanette Whitehall, a cousin of Wallace’s. “They completely dropped their life in Mississippi. They left with nothing on their backs.”

Family in Minnesota bought them everything they needed here, she said.

“We wanted to show them what love really was,” Whitehall said. “(Wallace) was coming from where love was not always given.”

The children moved to Minnesota before their mother, staying with Whitehall until Wallace joined them here last year, Whitehall said.

“D’Zondria had dreams of becoming a lawyer and helping minorities in need,” according to the family’s GoFundMe page. “D’Zondria was beautiful, outgoing, full of life (and) wanted the best for her children. D’Zondria loved her children with her whole heart.”

La’Porsha Wallace, 14, was shot and killed Jan. 30, 2021, in her home in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, along with her 30-year-old mother, D’Zondria, and 11-year-old brother, Ja’Corbie. A person of interest in the case was the following day. (Courtesy of Moesha Whitehall)

La’Porsha attended Roseville Middle School, where she was excited to play on the basketball team since her middle school in Mississippi did not have a team. She had dreams of one day playing in the WNBA, the family’s GoFundMe page said.

Ja’Corbie wanted to stay with his mother longer in Mississippi, so he came up a month later than his older sister.

“I know he tried to protect his mother as much as he could now,” Whitehall said. “He never wanted to leave his mother’s side. If he had to protect her, that’s what he did. And that’s probably why he lost his life.”

Ja’Corbie loved playing video games — especially Fortnite — and “had the biggest smile on his tiny face,” according to the GoFundMe page.

Whitehall and her daughter Moesha enveloped the two siblings into their own families as if they were their own children.

“I want people to know how loving they all were,” Moesha Whitehall said Sunday. “They were all loving.”

Details of the slayings have not yet been released, but La’Porsha texted Moesha shortly beforehand, at 2:36 p.m. Saturday.

“She asked what Moesha was doing,” Jeanette said. Moesha told her she’d just punched out of work and asked what was going on.

La’Porsha never responded.

A St. Paul police officer had stopped by the Wallaces’ house in the 700 block of Jessie Street about 2 p.m. to check on D’Zondria at the request of an out-of-state relative.

“She looked at the officer and said, ‘I’m OK. Tell them I’m OK,’ ” said Mike Ernster, spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department.

An hour later, the Wallaces were found with apparent gunshot wounds. Wallace and her daughter were pronounced dead at the scene, and Ja’Corbie died at the hospital.

A fundraising page at gofundme.com/f/please-help-with-unexpected-funeral-cost has been set up to help the Wallace family cover funeral expenses.

Mara H. Gottfried contributed to this report.

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