Raquel Wilkins was identified as the 40-year-old mother who fell to her death at Petco Park on Saturday. She and her son, Denzel Browning-Wilkins, were found dead as thousands of fans were streaming into the San Diego Padres’ baseball stadium at around 3:50 p.m.
The mother and her 2-year-old son were pronounced dead on the scene after tumbling from the stadium’s dining concourse level. As of Thursday morning, it wasn’t clear what happened to lead to the fatal plummet. Police are still investigating all angles.
According to authorities, “the victims’ deaths appeared to be suspicious, and out of an abundance of caution the San Diego Police Homicide Unit was called to the scene.” Lt. Andra Brown told reporters on Wednesday that “the investigation is ongoing.”
“Detectives are still in the process of interviewing witnesses and attempting to locate evidence,” Brown continued. “How and why this happened are questions on the mind of many, especially the investigators looking for answers in this heartbreaking case.”
Lt. Andra Brown revealed that investigators are questioning many witnesses who were present during Raquel Wilkins and Denzel Brown-Wilkins’ tragic deaths. Some witnesses have even opened up to reporters about the harrowing event, claiming that the mom had repeatedly climbed on a picnic bench prior to tumbling from the concourse level.
Witnesses recalled Raquel Wilkins climbing on the picnic bench but quickly falling off, though she only fell a few inches the first time. She then reportedly repeated the stunt, her son in her arms. It was the second time that she made it to the top the bench that she and Denzel Browning-Wilkins allegedly fell over the railing to their deaths.
One witness claimed that she saw Raquel Wilkins have a “close call” while jumping up and down on the picnic table bench. “She seemed happy, laughing,” the witness explained. “[A] man was standing next to the rail, and the woman stood up on the table’s bench with the boy in her arms and started jumping.”
The witness continued, explaining that Wilkins eventually “lost her balance and fell off the bench. I remarked to my son, ‘Oh my gosh she almost fell.’”
The witness, who remained anonymous, did not reveal whether they saw the tragedy occur moments after. However, many witnesses did see the pair fall nearly 16 stories to the ground below. A moment that has scarred and traumatized many.
“I’m just sitting in my seat crying,” one person wrote on Twitter. It was assumed they witnessed the tragic incident. “Wtf even matters right now on the field knowing what went down here. If anyone is at Petco and needs a hug I’m down. This is beyond devastating,”
Another person took to Twitter to express their sympathies to the family. “What a nightmare for this family. May peace find the surviving family and RIP to the mom and [son].”
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria made a statement regarding the tragedy at the San Diego baseball stadium. He said he was “fully briefed by our police department on the day of and in the days since. It’s horrifically tragic. There are a lot of unusual circumstances around the case that we continue to investigate. It is suspicious …”
“There were several witnesses – unfortunately no cameras – but several witnesses who were there who were clearly traumatized,” the mayor explained. Gloria then used the platform to discuss the ongoing mental health crisis in the nation, as well as the increased strain on families due to Covid-19.
“We have a mental health crisis that we don’t talk nearly enough about,” the mayor added in his statement. “And Covid has exacerbated that greatly. I hope that folks who find themselves in this position – and there is no shame in admitting that you’re having challenges – to avail themselves to the many services that are out there. You are not alone in this regard.”
The comments quickly transformed into controversy earlier this week, with the family’s lawyer bashing the San Diego mayor, claiming that it was unprofessional and dangerous to speculate on the cause of the fall. Gloria later apologized for his speculation and statement. Police are still trying to identify whether there was foul play or other suspicious angles involved.
It was announced on Raquel Wilkins’ Facebook page that she and her partner, Christopher Browning, got engaged on Sept. 25, the same day she plummeted to her death. It wasn’t specified when the engagement took place, though Browning was reportedly at the stadium when Wilkins and her baby fell to their deaths.
While some have speculated suicide – including Mayor Todd Gloria – the family is convinced there is another explanation. On top of the proposal, Raquel Wilkins had reportedly texted pictures to her father, Donald Wilkins, of her and her son enjoying the baseball stadium. The father claimed the photos of his daughter and grandson smiling at Petco Park gave him no reason to believe she would commit suicide.