Monday, June 24, 2024

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School student Richelle Robinson, 15, in a photo shared by family.

Richelle A. Robinson, who died July 23 after an assault on Cambridge Street, will be buried at 1 p.m. Friday at St. Paul AME Church, with services made easier for her family through a show of love and sorrow on a crowdfunding campaign page.

The “Richelle’s Homegoing Ceremony” page set up Thursday asked for $5,000 to go toward the 15-year-old’s final expenses, but within four days that amount had been exceeded significantly: The total rested at $7,077 as of Tuesday morning.

Late Monday, family member KeyOndra Wilcox updated the page to thank contributors and confirm funeral arrangements had been made. At around the same time, city councillor E. Denise Simmons made a similar announcement at the summer council meeting on behalf of the Wilcoxes, noting the arrangements and a viewing beforehand for family only,  and thanking the community for the “outpouring of care and attention.”

Contributions and condolences

The crowdfunded money came in mainly in small amounts, with many contributors saying they didn’t know Richelle or the Wilcoxes and offering simple condolences. Some mentioned they were fellow parents at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, the high school Richelle would have graduated in 2021. Betsy Preval, who teaches seventh-grade English-language arts at Cambridge Street Upper School, recalled on the page how her former student “brightened up the classroom and my day every time she came in with her gorgeous smile and energy. She gave so much of herself to help others. She will be greatly missed and remembered with love.”

The page itself described Richelle as a loving, caring little sister, daughter, aunt and niece who was loved by many. “She was a very active young lady who loved to dance, and box. She loved to do nails and makeup and wanted to be an emergency medical technician when she grew up,” family wrote.

Incident on Cambridge Street

Instead, Richelle received a fatal head injury July 22 at Cambridge and Warren streets, in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood. That’s where the girl was that evening, believed by police to be walking to an acquaintance’s house, when she was shoved to the ground. She was raced to an area hospital in critical condition, but at 2:45 p.m. July 23 was pronounced dead.

Police initially said via Twitter that they were looking for a suspect who had robbed the girl of her purse and fled toward Boston on Cambridge Street; they corrected that some 11 hours later, saying the incident was not believed to be a robbery and telling a resident that the presence of the many police and emergency vehicles on the scene had been “due to the nature of the original call and injuries sustained by the involved party.”

Still, investigators said later that they were trying to find and identify witnesses to the incident, including information concerning the identity of a person seen in the area on a bicycle.

“Called home”

It’s the first death by violence of a CRLS student since the June 3, 2012, shooting of Charlene Holmes, 16. She and friend Thanialee Cotto, then 17, had been hit by gunfire from an apparent drive-by shooting aimed at someone else. The girls were taken to a local hospital, where Holmes was pronounced dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest. The crime has never been solved.

On Richelle’s crowdfunding page, family was more focused on the community’s generosity than on an investigation of her death.

“She was called home in an unfortunate event which left her family and everyone who knew her devastated,” family members said of Richelle.

St. Paul AME Church is at 37 Bishop Allen Drive, in The Port neighborhood near Central Square