Hamilton community surprises mother who raises funds for park bench to memorize slain teen

Sydney Garcia-Tovar, 16, was killed by a gunshot wound outside a Fairfield Twp. apartment complex in July 2018. PROVIDED/FILE
Caption
Sydney Garcia-Tovar, 16, was killed by a gunshot wound outside a Fairfield Twp. apartment complex in July 2018. PROVIDED/FILE

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

The mother of a slain Hamilton teenager says she is grateful for the outpouring of donations to pay for a memorial bench in Smalley Park.

Stephanie Garcia-Tovar’s 16-year-old daughter, Sydney, was killed in July 2018 after she was shot inside a car near the Tyler’s Creek Apartments on Wildbranch Road in Fairfield Twp. She was pronounced dead the next day.

ExploreMother of slain Hamilton 16-year-old: Indictment ‘is starting a whole new journey in her case’
Markeylnd Townsend, 22, charged with murder in the 2018 death of Sydney Garcia-Tovar, 16, of Hamilton, in Fairfield Twp.
Caption
Markeylnd Townsend, 22, charged with murder in the 2018 death of Sydney Garcia-Tovar, 16, of Hamilton, in Fairfield Twp.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Earlier this month, newly three years after the fatal shooting, Markeylnd Townsend, 22, of Hamilton was indicted for murder and felonious assault in Garcia-Tovar’s slaying. Townsend is accused of firing into the car driven by Garcia-Tovar.

Prosecutors say two groups of people are believed to have met up in the parking lot of the apartment complex for criminal activity, and Garcia-Tovar was shot in the back of the head while she was driving away from the gunfire.

Stephanie Garcia-Tovar was in Butler County Common Pleas court Wednesday when Townsend was arraigned and bond was set at $500,000.

ExploreVictim ID’d in Hamilton fatal shooting on Thursday

“When I saw him come through that little door, I pulled down my mask. I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to know I will be in court every time,” she said.

Garcia-Tovar said she had been thinking about a way to memorialize her daughter in a way that would also benefit the community. Two of her daughter’s friends came up with the idea of a bench in Smalley Park.

“I live across from Smalley, and Sydney and her friends used to go there. They told me that is where they can really feel Sydney with them,” she said.

When Garcia-Tovar looked around the park, there weren’t many places to sit, especially near the playground where parents might want to keep an eye on their children.

After contacting the Hamilton Parks Conservancy, Garcia-Tovar picked out a bench with three seats and established an online fundraising account to raise the $900 needed. She got that amount quickly and then some.

“Thank you so much for all the donations! I never expected to exceed my goal. Any extra monies that have been donated for Sydney will in turn be donated to Hope Dudley and her non profit organization U CAN SPEAK FOR ME,” Garcia-Tovar wrote last week on the page through which a total of $1,450 had been raised.

“I feel without her help with making posters/playing cards to distribute in the jails, Sydney’s face wouldn’t have made it out there like it was. I have left the go fund me open for that reason! Other families of murdered children can get the help they need from her as I did.”

ExploreTeen sentenced to life in prison for fatal shooting of former Fairfield football standout