Family prays for answers a year after a mother’s murder at Barbour County field party

Family prays for answers a year after a mother’s murder at Barbour County field party
Family prays for answers a year after a mother’s murder at Barbour County field party

BARBOUR COUNTY, Ala. (WTVY) – A family is desperate for answers after a field party in Barbour County last year turned deadly.

No child should have to grow up without their mother and no mother should have to bury her child. For Kenyatta Snell’s family though, that is reality.

The beloved 25-year-old mother and daughter lost her life when she got caught in the crossfire during the out-of-control June 3, 2023 party.

“She didn’t have to happen like that,” Pamela Snell, Kenyatta’s mother, said. “She was just trying to get out of harm’s way and she got hit.”

Kenyatta was a loving mom and was described by her family as the life of the party.

“That shouldn’t have happened, but it did and I just want justice for her because this is what we deal with every day,” Pamela said.

Kenyatta’s now 3-year-old daughter, Kassidy, was the love of her life.

“Watching her baby grow up without her, that’s hard. That’s really hard and she asks about her mother all the time,” Snell said.

News4 asked Pamela what she says to Kassidy when she asks about her mom.

“Oh god, we try to let her know that, ‘Your momma loves you for one, and she’s looking over you’…if she says, ‘Mommy, she passed away.’ I’ll be like, ‘Yeah,’ and she’ll say, ‘she She in heaven with God?’ I’ll say yes,” Snell said.

Kenyatta Snell’s now 3-year-old daughter, Kassidy, was the love of her life.(Pamela Snell)

For Kenyatta’s sisters Kimesha and Kierra, their lives will never be the same.

“We did everything together,” Kimesha Snell said.

“We would say from the womb to the tomb. That’s just how we were raised…we just miss her so much,” Kierra Snell said.

They still long for their sister a year after she died in that field.

News4 asked Pamela Snell whether she thinks this raises questions about the safety of these kinds of field parties.

“Yes, it does,” Pamela said.

Kenyatta was one of at least 900 people at the event in Louisville, Alabama, an event that Barbour County Investigator Lieutenant Tracy Reese said had no security.

“Nine hundred people shouldn’t be anywhere without a group of security to secure the scene, people and make sure things stay under control, because it appears it got out of control,” Reese said.

The party took a dark turn when two groups began shooting at each other.

News4 asked Reese if he thinks this was gang-related.

Definitely. Based on everything that everybody said, it just seemed like there was talk of some gangs that were there that didn’t like each other,” Reese said.

Kenyatta’s friend Ahtilah Upshaw was there too. Luckily, she got away before the gunfire broke out.

“From the time we walked back to the car, you could see other people coming back in the field in with guns all the way down to their shins,” Upshaw said. “My instinct was to just leave.”

Reese believes onsite security could have ended the violence before it began.

“Had we had officers, patrol cars on scene, K9 units, I don’t believe this would have happened. Just facts,” Reese said.

Barbour County isn’t the only place where field parties have turned violent.

In January, a field party in Henry County with nearly 1000 people and no security ended with four people being shot.

That convinced Sheriff Eric Blankenship that a bill was needed to place regulations on those gatherings.

Starting June 1 in Henry County, Blankenship said anyone wanting to have an event that’s open to the public and admission is charged will have to get a permit.

One of the stipulations to getting that permit is having a safety plan in place that would be vetted by the sheriff’s office.

“That night just trying to triage that you know, get all that scene under control was just like, ‘Come on, we got to do something to prevent this,’” Blankenship said.

Lt. Reese believes Barbour County needs to clamp down as well.

“That is supposed to be on the agenda for us to get a bill passed, for that county commission to force approval for these parties. At least have a permit so we know it’s happening. I hate to use the word force, but have them have security on hand, even EMS on hand,” Reese said.

While Kenyatta Snell’s death seems to be prompting change, finding her killer has been a tough task.

Evidence is Reese’s biggest challenge.

“We’re limited here because of what we have. We don’t have a lot. I wish that we could get some video from that party,” Reese said.

He said they need information about who was there.

“Someone shot that girl, I don’t know if they know that but they did and we just need to know who was out there shooting so we can dig from there,” Reese said.

Reese believes though it will take help to solve this baffling case.

“We can solve it if we can get someone from that party to come forward and talk,” Reese said.

While nothing will ever fill their void, Kenyatta’s family will never give up hope for justice.

“I just want justice for my baby because she didn’t deserve to die like that and justice for her baby because she deserves to have her mama,” Pamela Snell said.

News4 reached out to the person who organized that party that ended in Kenyatta’s death, but she declined to talk about what happened.

If you have any videos from that event or information related to the case, Reese urges you to contact the Barbour County Sheriff’s Office.

“That was a life was taken and life is very valuable,” Reese said.

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