One by one, they stood in front of a microphone on the steps of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, each speaking the name of a loved one lost to homicide.
Yama Fluker Khalil Cousart Danielle Watson
About 100 people family and friends of more than 20 local homicide victims gathered Tuesday evening for a ceremony organized by CMPDs Homicide Support Group in recognition of the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
Martine Highet, CMPDs homicide support specialist, said the event was meant not only to honor the memory of those who have died, but also to recognize the impact that homicide has on surviving family members.
Their lives will never be the same, Highet said. They have to move on with this new normal that, unfortunately, they didnt choose. And they have to carry on.
At Tuesdays ceremony, people wore T-shirts or pins with photos of their slain relatives.
Speaking to the crowd, Police Chief Rodney Monroe said the killing of a loved one stays with you for your entire life. Ten years ago, Monroes sister was beaten to death in Maryland by her boyfriend.
Patsy Martin, whose son Ronald Martin was gunned down on the stoop of her Charlotte home in April, said shes become involved with the homicide support team and the Mothers of Murdered Offspring group since the killing. She said she hopes to help other families hurting in the wake of murder.
Martin said shes dealing with her sons killing by cherishing the memories she has of him.
I think about the conversations we had, the funny things he did, the things he did to make me mad, she said. Its how I keep him alive in my heart.
Homicide detectives and Assistant District Attorney Bill Stetzer also attended the ceremony.
I feel privileged to seek justice on behalf of such strong people, said Stetzer, who heads the Mecklenburg District Attorneys Offices homicide team.
At dusk, the group lit candles, and then people were given the chance to step to a microphone and say the name of their murdered loved ones.
When Cathy Saunders reached the microphone, she told the crowd her sons name: Jonathan Michael Green.
Today is his 28th birthday, she said.
Green, a father of two, and another man were shot to death in April at a home in the University City area. Three men were later charged with their murders.
Saunders said she believes its important for victims families to grieve, but they also should celebrate the lives of lost ones.
For her sons birthday, Saunders said she wrote a poem she called Forever 27. Her family got a birthday cake and planned to release balloons. She came to the ceremony at CMPD to honor her sons memory.
I would not have missed this for the world. Staff writer April Bethea contributed.