People of Northwest Public Radio
Wed April 11, 2012
Tulsa Shooting Victim Had Turned Her Life Around
In Tulsa, Okla., the families of the three victims killed during a shooting rampage Friday are planning funerals. Police say William Allen, 31, Bobby Clark, 54, and Donna Fields, 49, were shot in a predominantly black neighborhood on the north side of Tulsa by two white men.
Fields was walking home after playing a game of dominoes with friends. She was called Donna, but her given name was Dannaer. Her brother Kenneth says she was named after an aunt.
For the past year, she had been living with Kenneth, his wife, Emma, and her 9-year-old niece, Mariah, in a modest ranch home — not far from where her body was found.
"She was just on the next street over," her brother says. "I didn't hear any gunshots or nothing. Shoot, she was almost here to the house, and she just didn't make it."
Fields was a petite woman, and she loved to walk. The two men who have confessed to shooting Fields, Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 33, drove around the north side of Tulsa randomly picking victims.
Fields says whenever his sister walked home, her route was the same.
"I tried to show her another way, but she said, 'I ain't' coming that way.' So she came the way she always come, and that's the way she was coming that night," he says.
Donna Fields came from a large family. She had nine brothers and sisters, but after her death, only three of her siblings are living. She's also survived by her 30-year-old son.
Just a few doors down from her brother's home are two people Fields treated like family. Elisa and William Van got to know Fields as they worked as ushers at their church, and they often played dominoes together. They became fast friends and joked about their relationship.
"My son is 50 years old, and she said, 'I'm as old as your son; I might be your daughter.' You might be," William Van joked.
"She was a character," Elisa Van said.
A character who could often be very plainspoken but also very caring, says Elisa Van. She says Fields often called members of the church or visited them to make sure they were all right.
"She'd sit and talk with them for a few minutes and then, 'OK, give me my hug, I've got to go.' That's the way everybody knew Donna; she was just a big old sweetheart," Van says.
During her lifetime, Fields battled addictions — drugs and alcohol abuse. The Rev. Doc Smith, who will preach the eulogy at Fields' funeral, says after Fields became very ill a couple of years ago, she put all of that behind her and then worked to help others.
"She stood for justice. She understood the underdog. She understood the streets. She understood all of that. She's been an inspiration to us rather than us to her, and to see what God can do with anybody," Smith says.
Kenneth Fields says he wants justice for his sister, but he doesn't think the men who have confessed to killing her should be put to death.
"I don't hate them. I don't hate them. That ain't what God put us down here for, to hate nobody," he says.
His wife is not as forgiving. Kenneth Fields says he just wishes the two accused men had stopped to think for a few minutes before they started their shooting spree. He even wonders who will raise Jake England's infant son.
Donna Fields' funeral will be held Saturday.