Nichole Gaskins, 35, poet

Nichole D. Gaskins
Nichole D. Gaskins
Posted: June 15, 2014

Nichole Davina Gaskins, 35, of Germantown, a poet and aspiring journalist, died Thursday, June 12, at Hahnemann University Hospital of complications from a spinal cord injury she sustained during a random shooting on Aug. 30, 2000.

Born in Philadelphia, Ms. Gaskins was the youngest of three children of Regina and Gregory Gaskins.

She graduated from Martin Luther King High School in 1997 and pursued her interest in writing poetry; she hoped to become a journalist. She loved music, fashion, family, and friends.

She worked in retail, running a cash register at the Kmart at Cedarbrook Mall, and was independent to the core.

"She loved her apartment and took great care in ensuring everything was always just the way she liked," said her brother, Elliott.

But the shooting changed everything. Ms. Gaskins, 21 then, one of four injured that day, was shot as she stood outside her home in East Germantown.

As she rushed for cover inside, police said, Casey Dooley, also 21 and from East Germantown, shot her in the shoulder, mouth, and neck. The last shot from a 9mm pistol hit the C-5 vertebra of her spinal cord, near the base of her neck, her family said.

She was paralyzed, and spent time at Inglis House, a facility for patients living with injuries and disabilities. She moved to her own apartment several years ago.

She could speak and had some use of her arms, her brother said.

"Despite the tragic circumstances that led to her spinal cord injury at the age of 21, she was a lover of life and as tough as they come," he said. "Forever loyal, sometimes stubborn, but always compassionate, she always believed in being there for those that needed her."

Dooley was convicted of shooting four victims at three locations the same morning, and sentenced to a jail term of 1021/2 to 205 years. As Common Pleas Court Judge Raymond A. Means pronounced sentence, Ms. Gaskins cried quietly from her wheelchair.

Besides her brother, she is survived by another brother, Donovan, and 10 nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, June 16, at the Alfonso Cannon Funeral Chapel, 2315 N. Broad St. Burial is private.

Contributions may be made to Inglis House, 2600 Belmont Ave., Philadelphia 19131.


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