Tulsa Shooting Victim Had Turned Her Life Around Donna Fields, 49, was walking home in a predominantly black neighborhood on the north side of Tulsa, Okla., when she was shot to death Friday night. "She's been an inspiration to us ... to see what God can do with anybody," her preacher said.
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Tulsa Shooting Victim Had Turned Her Life Around

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Tulsa Shooting Victim Had Turned Her Life Around


In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the families of the three victims killed during a shooting rampage on Good Friday are planning funerals. William Allen, Bobby Clark and Donna Fields all were shot in a predominately black neighborhood on the north side of Tulsa by two white men. NPR's Cheryl Corley has this remembrance of Fields, who was 49 when she died while walking home after playing a game of dominoes with friends.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Donna Fields' given name was actually Dannaer Fields. 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.

KENNETH FIELDS: She was just on the next street over. And you know, I didn't hear no gunshots or nothing, you know. But shoot, she was almost here to the house, and she just didn't make it. She just didn't make it.

CORLEY: Fields was a petite woman with natural hair, and she loved to walk. The two men who confessed to shooting Fields - 19-year-old Jake England and 33-year-old Alvin Watts - drove around the north side of Tulsa, randomly picking victims. Fields says whenever his sister walked home, her route would remain the same.

FIELDS: 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.

CORLEY: Donna Fields came from a large family; she had nine brothers and sisters. But now with her death, there are only three siblings alive - and 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 they joked about their relationship.

WILLIAM VAN: 'Cause my son is 50 years old. And she finally - she said, well, I'm as old as your son - she said - I might be your daughter. You might be.


ELISA VAN: Yeah, she was a character.

CORLEY: 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.

ELISA VAN: And 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.

CORLEY: During her lifetime, Fields battled addictions - drugs and alcohol abuse. Reverend 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.

THE REV. DOC SMITH: 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, her; and to see, you know, what God can do with anybody.

CORLEY: Kenneth Fields says he wants justice for his sister, but he doesn't think the men who've confessed to killing her should be put to death.

FIELDS: I don't hate them. I don't hate them. That ain't what God put us down here for, to hate nobody.

CORLEY: His wife is not as forgiving. But Kenneth Fields says he just wishes the two accused men had stopped to think for a few minutes before they started their shooting spree. And he even wonders who will raise Jake England's infant son. Donna Fields' funeral will be held Saturday.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Tulsa.

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