“He was always smiling.” Family remembers victim in Kiener Plaza shooting

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 10:20 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - You can see it in his pictures: the free spirit and infectious personality of 30-year-old Darrius Mullins.

“He was always smiling. Everyone called him Smiley,” said Yolanda Yoji Yancie, his godmother.

“Darrius was a ball of joy, he never let anything get him down,” said Torri Anthony, Mullins’s Uncle. “Even his mother would tell you whenever he walked in the room. He brightened up the room. and you know he was a hugger.”

Both Yancie and Anthony tell News 4 Mullins was an avid skateboarder, and he had been working at Busch Stadium for a couple of years now.

“Family would see him down there at the games and just going through life being a young black man in the city of St. Louis doing his thing and having fun,” said Yancie.

Before that, Anthony said Mullins was working as a porter for Mercy hospital.

“Somebody had inboxed me and said they just loved having him and working with him at Mercy hospital. He was always a hugger and always hung by just to say hi, and his smile brightened up their office whenever he would walk in,” said Anthony.

First and foremost, he was like a protector for his mother and 18-year-old sister.

She said last night that [he] was her best friend, and as she is preparing for her senior prom and senior graduation, this has happened,” said Yancie. “I can’t even describe the heartbreak, the anger.”

Mullins was shot and killed in Kiener Plaza Thursday afternoon. St. Louis Metropolitan Police say they were called to a shooting off of 7th and Market Street just after 3:30 p.m., and that is when they found Mullins lying on the ground with gunshot wounds.

“It upset me because its broad daylight. What do you mean there’s a shooting at Kiener Plaza,” said Yancie.

“I couldn’t believe that this had happened to Darrius,” said Anthony. “It could happen to anybody, but you just never think that your family will be the victim.”

Mullins was skateboarding in the Kiener Plaza area on Thursday. SLMPD says while he was taking a break and sitting on a bench, a suspect approached Mullins and got into an argument with him. The suspect shot Mullins multiple times before taking off.

At this time, the suspect still has not been caught, but police do believe this was a targeted attack.

News 4 asked his family if there would be any reason to believe Mullins would be targeted.

“No not at all. I don’t,” said Anthony.

While Mullins’s family remains heartbroken and with questions as to why this happened to him, they want this kind of senseless violence to stop in the city.

“I stand firm and clear that I love my city, and I know that we do great things, and we have great people here and I will never let anyone discredit our city,” said Yancie. “But, at the same token, I don’t want us to lose another one.”

Yancie, who is also committeewoman for the city of St. Louis, says she supports existing grassroots movements that are working to bring communities together against violence as well as maintaining a strong police presence.

“It’s more to it than crime prevention. We have to do deterrence,” she said. “I think everybody is doing good work, it’s just that we all got to come together and do that work together.”

“As a people, we need to learn to come together and respect others, respect each other’s lives,” said Anthony.

News 4 has requested video surveillance or any pictures they may have of the suspect. However, SLMPD says investigators are not releasing any additional information and or videos and still images at this time.

Police are urging anyone in the public with additional information to call their Division at 314-444-5371, or leave an anonymous tip through CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).