Parents of Warwick woman killed in drive-by shooting start scholarship fund in her name

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — When Michelle and Bryan Brophy-Baermann said goodnight to their daughter a few months ago, they never imagined it would be the last time they would ever speak with her.

“We said goodnight, and every time she left I would always say ‘be careful out there’ … because that was something I always wanted her to hear,” Bryan recalled. “Then we went to bed, and Sunday morning, at about 7 o’clock, I heard knocking.”

“I got up, went to the front door, I opened it and saw two Providence police officers standing there,” he continued.

That’s when he knew something bad had happened to their daughter, 24-year-old Miya Brophy-Baermann.

Michelle said she will never forget that morning.

“I remember just hearing my name and sitting up in bed, and he told me that the police were here and I started screaming,” Michelle recalled. “I yelled, ‘she’s dead, isn’t she?’ … and they said ‘you know, you should sit down.'”

“I was still standing and I said ‘accident?’ because that’s all I could imagine was that there had been a horrible car accident,” she continued.

But what had actually happened to Miya was far worse.

The officers told Miya’s parents that she had been killed in a drive-by shooting.

“It was just too unbelievable,” Michelle said. “How could my daughter be shot?”

Detectives don’t believe Miya was the intended target.

“It took a while [for us] to learn that she was just standing by her car saying goodbye to a friend and someone shot her,” Michelle said. “We don’t really know a lot more than that, in part, because I don’t think we’re ready to know.”

Prior to her death, Miya had graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in speech pathology and had just started a job in her field.

Bryan said they were so proud of their little girl for everything she had accomplished.

“The last few years, I saw her really blossom into someone who could do so many things at once yet still care for other people,” he said. “She wasn’t doing it just for herself, she was doing it so she could help others, and the pride that comes with that is amazing.”

Miya’s death marked Providence’s 13th homicide of the year. Since then, eight other people have been killed.

No arrests have been made in connection with Miya’s death. It’s something her parents continue to struggle with to this day.

“It’s pretty terrible, because I know that [those] who did it are walking around, living their lives, and she’s not here,” Michelle said.

“One bullet can can wreak havoc on a family, and community, in ways that you just can’t even imagine,” Bryan added.

While Miya’s parents miss her more than words can describe, they’ve channeled their grief into something they believe she would be proud of.

The couple created the Miya D. Brophy-Baermann Scholarship Fund, or “Miya’s Voice,” which will provide financial assistance to traditionally under-represented students studying communicative disorders.

“She was always supportive of anybody in need,” Michelle said. “As she got older, I realized she was just very determined … she worked super hard.”

A GoFundMe page organized by Michelle and Bryan has raised more than $60,000 for the scholarship fund. They’re now working with the R.I. Foundation to make it official.

Her parents can’t thank the community enough for their support.

“This is everybody pulling together to really stand up and say, ‘these values, values Miya represented, are worth carrying forward,'” Bryan said.

“I think [the scholarship] would make Miya feel really good, knowing that other students will benefit from it,” Michelle added.

Michelle and Bryan said members of the community have also donated a $15,000 reward, which will be given to anyone who can provide information that leads to an arrest in their daughter’s murder.

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