Almont Park event remembers Aja Dawn Robinson Victim of domestic violence 10 years ago

Aja Dawn Robinson was killed in a domestic violence related murder-suicide in South Carolina on June 13, 2014. Her mother formed Angels for Aja to help others cope with grief and domestic violence relationships.
Courtesy photo

Ten years ago this month, Lisa Robinson greeted the worst visitor at her door that any parent could have: a stranger delivering her the news that her daughter, Aja Dawn Robinson, had been shot and killed in a murder-suicide domestic incident.

“I answered the door, and it was a woman asking if I was Aja’s mother,” recalled Robinson, noting that the killing happened on June 13, 2014, after they moved from Dorchester to South Carolina.

“She mentioned she was from the hospital. I knew Aja had been taken to the hospital for stomach issues recently, so I thought Aja had been taken to the emergency room. Then she said she wasn’t from the emergency room. She was from the morgue.”

Aja’s ex-boyfriend had been in a mental health crisis, but he still obtained a gun. After stalking her overnight, he pursued her in a car chase and shot her twice before she could exit her car only a few blocks from her home. He then turned the gun on himself.

Since that horrendous event – which happened in Columbia, SC – Robinson has been a one-woman show running Angels for Aja, a Mattapan-based group that seeks to shine light on domestic violence in relationships, as well as the healing from grief and loss of all kinds.

On this coming Saturday (June 15), she will run her first stand-alone community event in Mattapan’s Almont Park from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. She intends it to be a memorial for those lost to domestic violence, but also an upbeat celebration to remember those lost in any fashion, and to promote healing.

“I think we need to have a place to remember the people we love and that we’re grieving for and in a way that’s not sad,” she said.

“They don’t deserve to just be an obituary, or a newspaper clipping about them being murdered or dying in a crash or of cancer. That’s not their lives; they were much more of that. Remembering them doesn’t have to be sad only; their memories can be happy and make us laugh. That’s what I’d like this to be about.”

Robinson’s family, including Aja, lived on Michigan Avenue in Dorchester for many years before relocating to South Carolina for a “fresh start.” With no family there, they relied on a network of good friends, and Robinson worked for the State of South Carolina while Aja was an assistant manager at a retail store. Their life there was “wonderful,” Robinson said, until Aja’s ex-boyfriend entered the picture 10 years ago.

Robinson had been an anti-domestic violence activist in Dorchester, and Aja routinely attended round table discussions with her as a child and knew a lot about the issue. Ironically, Robinson said, she didn’t know Aja had been in an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend.

“I didn’t know it until I found her journals,” said Robinson. “She never said a word to me about it. I’ll always have to try to make peace with that and I don’t know if I ever will.”

However, after coming back north and settling in Mattapan in 2017, part of finding peace has been advocating via Angels for Aja – which is represented by butterflies and is something that will be a theme for the June 15 event. The event will feature refreshments, a memorial table to remember loved ones lost in any fashion, the reading of names submitted for the memorial, and the recitation of two poems written specifically for the loss of Aja.

Robinson said her hope is that the event will be “uplifting” and that it will become an annual event. “I would love it if people would stand up and share stories about their loved ones. That would be the best way to remember loved ones, including Aja.”

Subscribe to the Dorchester Reporter