ST. LOUIS ( -- Sharita Brooks was found killed Monday morning and her family wants her memory to live on. 

“The smile that she has, she bright up everybody. She was just a wonderful woman,” said Brooks' cousin Kay Thompson said.

Andrew Buckingham, 31, is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence, after police say he killed Brooks in front of her infant child. Police say Buckingham appeared at Brooks' University City home on Sunday before Brooks drove him to an area near his home in Spanish Lake. While en route, police say Brooks called a friend because she did not feel safe. Buckingham is accused of then shooting Brooks in the head while she was in the driver's seat. 

[READ: Man accused of shooting, killing woman in front of her infant child inside a car]

Both Brooks and her baby were found inside the car in the 1600 block of Claudine around 7:30 a.m. Monday. Police said the infant appeared to be uninjured and Brooks was pronounced dead at the scene.

"How can you be that weak of a man to take a woman's life like that in front of her kid?" Brooks' sister Capri Williams said. Her family said Brooks ended her relationship with Buckingham two weeks before her killing.

“Unfortunately it’s a thing that happens very often,” said Jaszmine Parks.

Parks is with Safe Connections, a nonprofit that helps domestic abuse survivors. She says studies show the most dangerous time can be when abuse victims escape their abuser. 

That’s why she encourages abuse survivors to contact a hotline to get assistance to exit safely.

“There’s this misconception that abuse tends to escalate in a linear matter right, you can’t always identify when it’s coming and unfortunately it doesn’t work that way,” she said.

Each year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline says more than 12 million women and men are victims of intimate partner violence.

Buckingham is being held on a $1 million cash-only bond.

If you are in need of help, there are resources available. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE. Locally, Safe Connections works to end domestic and sexual abuse and help victims thrive. Contact them for help or to make a donation. The family has also created a GoFundMe page, you can visit it by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

News 4 Reporter

Ashli Lincoln is a general assignment reporter for News 4 St. Louis

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