By Denise Hollinshed St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — From the outside things looked normal for the three children as they played with toys given by an anonymous donor and delivered to them by officers with the St. Louis County Police Department.

But behind the smiling faces, memories of the terrible day when their mother was shot dead in front of them replays in their minds every day, their grandmother, Yvette King, 46, said.

For just a few moments Friday, the children of Porsha Owens, 28, of Castle Point, didn’t have to think about June 13, when she was accosted by a man who demanded her car keys, then shot her in front of her children. Owens was a Riverview Gardens school safety officer at Westview Middle School and was taking her three children to the car when she was attacked.

Police said the gunman wanted her car but couldn’t start it and ran off, leaving her bleeding to death on the ground with her children by her side.

Mark L. Haywood was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. His bail was set at $1 million, cash only.

St. Louis County Police Lt. Col. Troy Doyle coordinated the event Friday at the North County Recreation Center, along with the Ethical Society Of Police chapter in St. Louis County, to present the toys to the children.

Ruemont Farmer, 8, Hailee Watson, 4, and Haidyen Watson, 3, walked into a room where the toys were displayed on a long narrow table.

“This is something to give back to them,” Doyle said. “I’ve been doing this job 26 years plus and have seen a number of horrific crimes that have bothered me, but this is one that touched me. To sit there and to die right in front of her kids — if you don’t have any compassion for that then you’re not human.”

He said he had contacted the donor who paid for the toys.

“It’s not 100 toys but enough to say we are thinking about you,” Doyle said as he watched the children.

These smiles are priceless. Thanks to an anonymous donor, we were able to bring smiles to the faces of Porsha Owens’ three young children. Her life was taken right in front of them just a few weeks ago. We’ll continue to be there when they need us. #ProtectAndConnect @Tmann69

— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) July 6, 2018

Ruemont’s eyes darted to a green motorized truck.

Doyle helped him get it out of the box.

“It’s got a lot of details in it, and it’s big, too,” Ruemont said, smiling in a green shirt that matched the green on the truck.

Hailee wanted the Luva Bella doll, and her little brother wanted the blue riding buggy that Officer Lou Kidson and St. Louis County Police Capt. Guy Means put together for him.

King said her grandchildren were coping well under the circumstances.

“I love my grandchildren, and my daughter always told me to keep her children together if anything ever happened to her,” King said. “I love my grandbabies, and they love me.”

She said she was still in disbelief.

King said Ruemont drew pictures of what he saw the day his mother was shot to death.

“All three of the children have talked about” what happened, she said. “They said, ‘Pow pow momma is dead.’”

“I comfort my grandchildren, and they know that I love them.”

A gofundme account set up to raise money to pay for the children’s expenses, had reached $241,000 on Friday.

©2018 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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