APPLING, GEORGIA – Coverage you can count on begins with a community left dealing with the aftermath of a deadly shooting on Friday. In a candlelight vigil family and friends remembered the lives of the victims and the shooter.
It’s only been five days since this community lost six of their own, but in several messages shared Wednesday night this tragedy has united the families of the victims and the people of Appling.
“We are all going to have something to remember anytime we come down this street,” Pastor Echols Miller said.
A piece of crime scene tape is all that remains from the tragedy that tore through Appling, Georgia. The silent reminder of the deadliest mass shooting in Columbia County.
“God I am praying now that nobody in this situation hate God,” said a pastor who spoke at the vigil.
On Wednesday night a candlelight vigil marked the beginning a long road of healing for the community and these families. A process that Pastor Echols Miller says includes the gunman Wayne Hawes.
“We cannot leave out brother Hawes simply because of his actions. If the healing process is going to take place we must learn to forgive him also. We can’t exclude him he was part of this community as well,” Pastor Echols Miller told WJBF News Channel 6.
The vigil included hundreds of people wearing shirts with sayings like ‘Pray For Appling’ and ‘Your wings were ready, but our hearts were not.’ Their tears flowed as they listened to powerful messages from the families.
“I can actually say today is the first day that I have been able to be at peace and feel a joy inside me because I’ve been grieving,” said one family member.
“No one would have ever thought anything of this magnitude would have happened, but this is a time right now for us to love on each other and truly show unity. Let’s not let this be in vain,” a family member shared at the vigil.
Standing together surrounded by friends, these families lit six candles representing the six lives lost and together they released balloons into the Appling sky knowing their loved ones have gone to a better place.
“We stand in faith knowing God that we believe you can heal us right now,” said a Pastor during the vigil.
The funerals for the victims of the shootings start taking place on Friday and continue through Monday.