RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– Veronica Baker would have celebrated her 18th birthday with seafood, family and friends.

Instead, her parents are honoring her memory while they push for justice in her killing.

“I know she’s in heaven and I know she’s at peace.  I hope they are having a big party for her birthday,” said Baker’s mother, Laura.

Baker was shot and killed in a Raleigh Bojangles parking lot in August.  Her father, Jim Baker, said his daughter defended herself in her last moments.

“Her parking spot is still empty.  We wait for her car every night, but she’s never coming home,” said Laura Baker.

The Baker’s said their daughter leaves behind a legacy of kindness, compassion and caring.

“She saw every single person as an individual.  She saw the good in everybody,” Jim Baker said.  “She was everybody’s friend.”

Veronica Lee Baker

Baker loved the ocean, the color blue, her dog “Louis,” and her sneaker collection.

“She took such pride in her shoes,” said Laura Baker.

Her parents said Veronica Baker also loved going camping and eating her father’s home cooked meals.

She aspired to cook like him.

“I’d cook breakfast and we’d all eat and go hit the beach at about 10 a.m.  Veronica and I would get right beyond where the waves break” said Jim Baker.  “We’d sit out there and float and talk. Ten minutes into it and she’d go, ‘what’s for lunch dad?'”

Veronica Baker’s dream was to help people as a social worker. 

She planned to attend East Carolina University but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, decided to enroll in classes at Wake Tech instead.

She was scheduled to begin classes right before she was killed.

The Bakers said their daughter texted them a half hour before she was killed saying she was on her way home.

“One thing I hold on to is that she never went anywhere, anywhere without saying ‘I love you,'” said Jim Baker. “That was my last conversation with her.”

Family and friends honored her love of the ocean with a recent trip to Emerald Isle to place roses in the water.

“Every person there said they saw fish jumping and that’s a sign of God. I felt at peace. I felt at peace at least that day,” said Laura Baker.

Two memorial rides are planned for Veronica Baker this weekend: One at the Dragon Slayer Clubhouse in Wendell at 10 a.m. All proceeds will be donated in Baker’s memory to The Masonic Home for Children in Oxford.

Another fundraiser will be held at Butner Athletic Park in Butner from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.