Italia Marie Kelly was leaving a protest in a Walmart parking lot when she was shot

By Harriet Sokmensuer
June 02, 2020 12:48 PM
Italia Marie Kelly
| Credit: GoFundMe

A 22-year-old Iowa woman was fatally shot in the back early Monday morning as she was leaving a protest against police brutality.

Italia Marie Kelly had been protesting with a friend Sunday night over the death of George Floyd when she began to feel uncomfortable at the late-night demonstration held in a Davenport Walmart parking lot, according to the Des Moines Register. As she and her friend got into their vehicle, Kelly was struck by a bullet that went through her shoulder and chest.

Kelly was transported to a hospital, where she was declared dead upon arrival.

"She was here trying to protest peacefully. These idiots just want to take it out of control and bring guns to a situation that don’t need to be here," her mother, Sharon Kelly, told WQAD. This needs to stop. It needs to stop now before another mother has to grieve like I do, and cry over her baby gone. It’s gotta stop."

Kelly was one of two people killed during the protest, which police say was attended by dozens of people who eventually dispersed from the parking lot and into the city, where things turned more violent.

At a press conference Monday morning, Mayor Mike Matson said the violence that ensued Sunday night was a stark contrast from the peaceful protests the day before.

"The incidents of last night were not about promoting justice, and they were not about honoring the memory of George Floyd," Matson said. "Instead they were intended to create chaos and purposely inflict damage throughout our community."

No arrests have been made in the shootings.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

"She was always smiling, always laughing. That's why it's so sad that she was taken in such a violent way," Kelly's aunt, Amy Hale, told the Quad-City Times. "That is not Italia. She was the bright, bubbly big personality in the room."

Hale said her niece, who was biracial, had just left work when she went to protest. She was not surprised to hear of her niece taking action for what she felt was right— she had used her social media to speak out against racial inequality.

"Whenever there was an injustice, whenever she felt like someone wasn't being treated fairly, she wasn't one of those that would stand quietly on the sidelines," Hale told the Register. "She was the first one to express her [opinion] and try to right what was going on."

Following last week's killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests have been staged across the country decrying police brutality and systemic racism. More than 30 major cities, including New York CityLos Angeles and Atlanta, have seen protests, with some erupting into violence.

In a recent interview with Good Morning America'Robin Roberts on Monday, Floyd's brother, Terrence Floyd, condemned the violence and looting occurring during some protests, saying that it is "overshadowing what's going on."

"He was about peace, he was about unity," he said of his brother.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

•Campaign Zero ( which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies. works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

•National Cares Mentoring Movement ( provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.