Porsha Owens' Neighbor Mark Haywood, 18, Charged in Her Murder

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Porsha Owens was killed on Monday in an attempted carjacking, police say. - FACEBOOK
Porsha Owens was killed on Monday in an attempted carjacking, police say.

St. Louis County prosecutors today charged an eighteen-year-old with second-degree murder in the killing of a popular school safety officer.

Mark Haywood shot 28-year-old Porsha Owens on Monday morning during an attempted carjacking outside her home in the Castle Point neighborhood of north county, authorities say. It happened minutes after 7 a.m. as the young mother was trying to load her three kids, ages three to eight, into her car. She was in her uniform from Riverview Gardens School District, preparing to head to work.
click to enlarge Mark Haywood is charged with murder. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE
Mark Haywood is charged with murder.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said Haywood fired twice and hit Owens once, stealing her gun, keys and purse off her once she was down. The children watched her bleeding to death in the street.

"I can't imagine anything more horrifying than that," McCulloch said today during a news conference. "It's one of the worst scenarios I can imagine or have ever seen in all years that I've been doing this."

Owens' grandmother, Fannie King, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Owens' eight-year-old son ushered his younger siblings under the car to hide while he ran to find a police officer.

The mortally wounded mother didn't die right away. She staggered across the street followed by her kids before collapsing, McCulloch said. Haywood ultimately ran off, authorities say.

He lived little more than a block away at 10327 Monarch Drive. Owens and her kids had just moved in a few days before. Investigators believe Haywood spotted his neighbor's car, a white Dodge Charger, and made plans to steal it.

McCulloch said he had been lurking in the neighborhood that morning, and when Owens and her kids headed for the Charger, he slipped out from behind the family's new home, gun drawn. He ordered her to hand over what she had, and at some point, opened fire. But his plan to steal the Charger failed.

"Fortunately for everyone, he wasn't able to get the car started," McCulloch said.

Haywood ran off on foot. McCulloch wouldn't reveal the specifics of how investigators identified him, but he said neighbors and evidence left at the scene helped lead them to him.

St. Louis County police took Haywood into custody on Tuesday night. At the time, he was still in the neighborhood near his house. Inside the home, investigators discovered items believed to have been stolen from Owens. They also found two guns. Asked if the guns were the murder weapon and the one stolen from Owens, McCulloch said they are still investigating.

Haywood is now being held on $1 million cash bond. Prosecutors could bump up the charge to first-degree murder if they can determine premeditation, McCulloch said.

Owens' heartbroken colleagues and the school kids she protected have mourned her death as the shocking news spread.

"Officer Owens was a treasured member of the RGSD family, who worked diligently to build positive relationships with the scholars and staff," the district wrote in a Facebook post.

Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. (D-St. Louis) honored Owens in a number of posts following her death. He said he met her when she was a teenager interested in rap. Twelve years later, she had become a favorite of Franks' young daughter, who is a student in the Riverview Gardens District.

"I just got the news about Porsha and it saddens me," Franks wrote on Facebook. "This is why I fight so hard against gun violence and violence period! Rest easy Porsha!"
Owens' family is now trying to raise money to take care of her children. A GoFundMe account created on Tuesday raised more than $14,300 of a $50,000 goal in less than 24 hours.

The funeral for the fallen security officer is scheduled for June 20 at Reliable Funeral Home, 3958 Washington Blvd. Visitation begins at 10 a.m. and the service at 11 a.m. She will be buried at St. Peter's Cemetery.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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