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'My life will never be the same': Family remembers 20-year-old fatally shot at Saunders Park in east Columbus

Masonique Saunders, 20, was one of two women who were shot near Saunders Park on Atcheson Street Saturday night, family members told 10TV.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Family members have identified the woman who was fatally shot at a park in east Columbus Saturday night.

Masonique Saunders, 20, was one of two women who were shot at Saunders Park on Atcheson Street, family members told 10TV.

Around 8:25 p.m., police said multiple people exchanged gunfire from different locations surrounding the park during a cookout.

Saunders was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the other woman involved in the shooting was pregnant and was grazed by a bullet. She was taken to Grant Medical Center and is expected to be OK.

Anita Williams, Saunders’ aunt, told 10TV’s Ashley Bornancin that she had dropped her niece off at Saunders Park the night of the shooting. 

However, she had a feeling that something was off.

‘I told you ‘I love and if anything happens, call me and I’ll come get you’,” Anita said.

Saunders’ mother Daniele Williams said she received a call from one of Saunders’ friends, saying that her daughter had been shot.

“My life will never the be the same because I lost a part of me,” Danielle said.

Family members believe that the shooting may have stemmed from retaliation from the 2018 shooting death of 16-year-old Julius Tate Jr.

Tate, who was Saunders’ girlfriend at the time, was shot and killed by an undercover Columbus police officer during an attempted robbery that happened a year prior.

Saunders was arrested and charged because police said she played a role in the robbery that resulted in Tate’s death.

Saunders was initially charged with murder. State law says that if a person is killed while committing a crime, their accomplice can be charged with murder.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Saunders pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated robbery in juvenile court.

The prosecutors dismissed gun specifications and withdrew a motion seeking to have the case transferred to adult court.

Saunders pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of attempted robbery in May 2019.

"Since she's been home, it's been threats after threats," Anita said. 

While the family believes Saturday’s shooting may have stemmed from that incident, police have not released further information on possible suspects or a motive.

Saunders’ family says she was focused on building a better life for herself after she was released. Saunders was taking classes to study business and hoped to work with children with disabilities.

“I just want to get justice for my daughter,” Danielle said.

Anyone with information on Saunders' death is asked to call the Columbus Police Homicide Unit at 614-645-4730 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-TIPS (8477).

Saunders' death marks the 34th homicide in Columbus in 2022.

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