'Our hearts are heavy': Hedingham mass shooting vigil unites community in grief

Cindy Bae Image
ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Sunday, October 16, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

In silence and in tears on Saturday where the Hedingham Fall Festival was supposed to be held, the mood at the Hedingham clubhouse instead, was somber.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In silence and in tears on Saturday where the Hedingham Fall Festival was supposed to be held, the mood at the Hedingham clubhouse instead, was somber.

"This community is reeling," Jennifer Metallo said outside the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team mobile center. "There's a senselessness to things like this, and so we just pray for that hope, that spark of hope to just come back into this community."

Chaplains stood by to pray for people devastated by Thursday's mass shooting in Raleigh.

"We just sit and we listen," Metallo said. "It's an honor ... to even be let in someone's grief. It's monumental. I'm humbled by it every time, and so we just want to respect that and we want to let the people know that God loves them, he hurts with them when things like this happen."

More than 100 people crowded the parking lot, holding candles and linking arms at the end of the vigil in solidarity.

Neighbor John Smith remembered Nicole Connors, 52, and James Thompson, 16.

"Our kids grew up with the little kids," Smith said. "Nicole, she would always walk her dog, and we always had a conversation out there. So, everybody was like a close knitted family in the neighborhood, so this is hard on all of us."

Hedingham residents were still in disbelief Saturday that something like this can happen right outside their door.

"I've been here for 18 years and just never would've thought anything like this would happen here," Melissa Smith said. "And I know you hear that everywhere, but just how comfortable we always were, how comfortable we are here, and then having to be on guard at your home, it's challenging."

Both Melissa and John Smith were on their way home when their kids called and said they heard gunshots.

"You just don't feel safe anymore," Robyn Miller said. "Like all of us, just standing out there last night was uncomfortable."

The five portraits of Nicole Connors, Susan Karnatz, Mary Marshall, Gabriel Torres and James Thompson moved from the clubhouse to the Hedingham entrance sign after the vigil, where flowers and candles remain.

More people came to the sign on Saturday to pay their respects.

Raleigh Police established a memorial outside of the police department in honor of Torres, who leaves behind a wife and two-year-old daughter.

"The senseless acts of violence on October 13th have left the Raleigh Police Department grieving and mourning with the community," Raleigh Police said. "We continue to pray for the families of those that lost their loved ones and wish for a swift recovery of those injured."

ALSO SEE: NC Raleigh mass shooting: Family, friends mourn victims killed