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Family to hold vigil honoring single mother, son killed in front of their home

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — When Linda Newkirk came home from the hospital Thursday night, her neighbors asked if they can place two large white crosses on her fence. She said they created them in honor of her daughter and grandson who died that day.

“My son and my friends, they started signing it,” said Linda Newkirk through tears. “It just shows how much she’s loved and baby Nick.”

Kalamazoo police said Thursday morning Julina Gibson and her 4-year-old son Nick were both found outside their home on Emerson Street suffering from gunshots wounds. Police identified the boy’s father Nick Mitchell as the suspect. They said he later turned the gun on himself in front of the home as well.

“She had him in her arms when he shot her,” said Newkirk. “She was holding him trying to get him in the house.”

Newkirk said she knew something was off that morning when Mitchell demanded Gibson come outside to get Nick. He typically takes Nick inside the house whenever he drops them off. But this time he ‘made her’ come outside. Seconds later, gunshots rang out. Newkirk bolted for the door to her daughter and grandson.

“I ran out here and I was shaking him, ‘Nicky, Nicky wake up. Grandma’s here, grandma’s here.’ And he was still breathing so I thought ‘He’s ok,’” said Newkirk recounting what happened. “I was shaking Julina and I was going ‘Baby wake-up. Stay with me honey. Stay with me.’”

Gibson and Mitchell were not in a relationship she said but they had been going through a custody battle since 2015. Police pronounced both of them dead when they arrived. Nick was rushed to the hospital where he died hours later.

“Who does that to a baby,” said Newkirk sobbing. “I can’t understand that. But he’s my grandson. He’s going to be my hero forever.”

When Nick died, the family decided to donate his organs she said. They planned a vigil for them to be held on Saturday at 6 p.m. in front of their home where the two lived their final minutes. Newkirk knows the street will be packed with family, friends and neighbors.

“My grandchildren are my heart,” said Newkirk. “And part of my heart is gone.”

To make a contribution to Gibson's family click here for their GoFundMe account.

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