'Kiki' Walker remembered on one-year anniversary of shooting death

Sunday News Correspondent
January 06. 2013 1:07AM

MERRIMACK - As the one-year anniversary of 11-year-old Kierra Walker's death approaches, authorities say they have ruled out speculations that bullying might have prompted her death.

The Merrimack community mourned the loss of "Kiki" Walker on Jan. 8, 2012, after she died of a fatal gunshot wound at her home at Woodbury Condominiums.

At the time, authorities refused to say whether the gunshot was self-inflicted or an accident, but stressed that no foul play or criminal activity had been involved.

One year later, police are still remaining tight-lipped about whether Kierra's death was accidental.

"Our investigation has been closed for a matter of time. It was a gunshot, but I really can't say what caused it," Lt. Paul Trepaney said Friday.

Trepaney said the Merrimack Police Department had determined whether Kierra's death was accidental, but he would not disclose the findings to the Union Leader.

"Bullying was ruled out,'' he noted. "There was no evidence to substantiate that."

Less than a month after the shooting, local police handed over their ruling to the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office, on Feb. 10, 2012, for a final review.

Reached last week, Assistant County Attorney Kent Smith agreed with Trepaney.

Smith emphasized that his agency never felt the need to indict any individuals, and he didn't believe any criminal activity was involved. The case has been closed, he said.

Kierra was a sixth-grade student at James Mastricola Upper Elementary School. Her grandmother was at the house on Kearns Drive when the gun went off, but her parents, Kenneth Walker and Trisha Leavitt, were not at the residence.

The day after Kierra's death, a local mother started a Facebook page titled, "Make Merrimack Bully Free."

Shannon Duval-Grooms began the site as a way for parents and teenagers to gain information on how to handle bullying and where to go for help.

"I don't care who it is, no kid should be picked on," said Duval-Grooms, whose 14-year-old daughter was a friend of Kierra's. "I don't want to see any kid go through this. If the Facebook page helps one kid, it is worth it."

According to Duval-Grooms, her own daughter was the victim of continuous bullying about the same time of Kierra's death.

"She had a hard time with Kiki's passing," said Duval-Grooms, who asked to keep her child's identity anonymous. "My daughter told me that Kiki was dealing with these same issues at school."

In her daughter's case, the alleged bully was ultimately removed from the school system.

The girl has since learned how to deal with bullying in different ways, thanks to assistance from representatives at Bully Free New Hampshire, said Duval-Grooms.

Duval-Grooms' daughter, a student at Merrimack Middle School, is hoping to organize a memorial or vigil for Kierra this spring.

Other efforts are also under way to possibly establish a music scholarship in honor of Kierra, who participated in her school chorus and loved to sing.

Kierra also loved nature, animals, babies and swimming, according to people at the funeral. She loved snuggling with her parents, dressing up and dancing like no else could, her friends said at the time.

Kierra's mother did not return messages seeking comment for this article.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at khoughton@newstote.com.

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