Killeen residents gathered in 27-degree weather early Friday morning to pay tribute to victims of the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn.
A crowd of about 50 came to Lions Club Park for a national moment of silence for the 27 victims, 20 of whom were elementary school children, and a somber walk around the park for 27 minutes.
“It’s one minute for each victim,” said Josie Torres, a stay-at-home mother who organized the event.
Before the walk, Torres spent time handing out handmade green-and-white ribbons for the walkers to wear. She said she
decided to organize the memorial walk hearing about similar events that were scheduled to take place across the United States on the same day.
“I have three kids of my own, so I was very touched and I wanted to do something for the victims and their families,” she said. “I looked to see if anyone was doing anything here, but they weren’t, so I decided to try and organize a walk.”
Torres said it was the first time she had organized such an event, and was happy to see the response.
“At first it was just my friends, but it kept growing,” she said. “To see this many people come out to honor the victims is very touching, it made me cry.”
Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin, Councilman Jonathan Okray and other representatives from the city of Killeen joined Torres at Friday’s ceremony.
“We are able to provide logistical assistance for the walk,” Corbin said. “It’s nice the city could help participate in this national moment of silence.”
While many cities around the nation participated in similar memorial events Friday, Torres said she thought the shooting in Connecticut resonated especially for those in Killeen, a city that experienced two of the nation’s 10 deadliest shootings: Luby’s Cafeteria in 1991 and at Fort Hood in 2009.
“We have had to deal with this sort of thing here, and I think there is some understanding of what it is like,” Torres said. “I think there’s some understanding of what they must be going through.”
Denise Deichmann, who came to participate in Friday’s walk, agreed.
“Unfortunately, we have seen things like this in our own community,” said Deichmann, who is Torres’ mother-in-law. “That’s why it’s important for us to stand up and show our support."