Charnice Milton loved to read, and plans are underway now to open a children's bookstore in her memory.
This month marks the second anniversary of when the 27-year-old community reporter was shot and killed as she waited for a bus in Southeast D.C. The shooter, whose apparent target reportedly used Milton's body as a human shield, never has been found.
The Charnice A. Milton Community Bookstore has begun accepting book donations and will hold an official kickoff event Saturday, May 27.
A bookstore for children and young adults is a fitting tribute to Milton, a "big bookworm," her stepfather, Ken McClenton, said Wednesday. He asked people to donate.
"Drive up and drop off a book you love," he said. "I'm not talking about books you don't want and have written in. I'm talking about books you love."
Milton's family held a meeting on plans for the bookstore Wednesday evening, at the headquarters of the social justice-oriented radio station We Act Radio. The bookstore is planned for the basement of the building, at 1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE.
The future bookstore needs about $150,000 in work, including waterproofing, renovations and repairs to the heating and cooling system, Kymone Freeman said. He co-owns the radio station and is working on the bookstore project.
“You have to use your imagination,” Leslie Jennings-Maldonado said on a tour of the space. She's a radio producer at the station and works at a Ward 8 elementary school where many students don't have books at home.
"This will be an oasis in the desert," she said.
An outdoor area is envisioned as a "reader and writer's lounge," a statement about the project said. McClenton and others would like for the bookstore to open by the end of 2017.
Maldonado and Freeman helped hatch the idea for a new bookstore in Anacostia. Historian John Muller, who also is involved in the project, reported in Greater Greater Washington that D.C. has no independent bookstore east of the Anacostia River.
"Every neighborhood deserves a bookstore," Freeman said in the statement.
Freeman and McClenton clash politically; McClenton hosts a conservative radio show. But violence has touched them both.
"Murder has no political party," McClenton said.
Milton was killed by a stray bullet on May 27, 2015 where Alabama Avenue, Good Hope Road and Naylor Road meet. She covered a community meeting near Eastern Market and told her mother she was heading to their house in the Fort Dupont neighborhood. Her mother recounted that night in extensive interviews with News4 last year.
Milton was shot about 9:40 p.m. when a gunman riding in a group of dirt bike and all-terrain vehicle riders opened fire.
Police sought 14 people caught on surveillance video riding the vehicles, but no arrest has been made.
The detective on the case has interviewed more than 30 people, some multiple times, Lt. Anthony Haythe Sr. said Wednesday evening.
“We will continue to dedicate the resources we need to close this case,” he said.
Plans for the May 27 bookstore kickoff event are still in the works. Gregory "Sugar Bear" Elliot, of the D.C. go-go band that made the 1988 hit “Da Butt” famous, will perform.
Eventually, some of Milton's own books will be added to the bookstore. But her parents aren't ready to donate them yet.
"We keep them in her room," McClenton said.
HOW YOU CAN DONATE: We Act Radio is accepting donations for the bookstore every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., at 1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE in Anacostia.