Saturday was a day for grieving — and for hope — as family, friends and strangers gathered to celebrate the lives of three Killeen girls who were killed in an early morning fire in their home Jan. 26.
With more than 400 packed into the Westside Baptist Church in Killeen, family mourned the “gap in our generation” after the deaths of Chasity Armstrong, 6, Ka’Liyah Armstrong, 5, and Tristan-Sarah Blakes, 3.
A small pink urn contained the mortal remains of the sisters.
Family remembered precocious girls that were full of life.
“These girls would help you no matter the task required,” the family said in prepared remarks delivered by a female relative. “They loved with their whole hearts.”
Nicknamed “banana pudding,” “apple pie” and “cupcake” by their grandmother, the girls were beacons of joy and unity for those who knew them.
“Who could have known the things we would have lost in that fire,” the relative said. “We’re not angry with God because we’ve been on this journey a long time. Today we are rejoicing that these three sisters are playing at the feet of the Lord.”
Local dignitaries, including members of the Killeen City Council and Mayor Jose Segarra were in attendance, hoping to offer support to a grieving community.
“Such a tragedy of these three beautiful young girls killed in the house fire,” Councilman Gregory Johnson said. “I’m praying for healing and comfort during this time of sorrow.”
The memorial was not only for those who knew the girls in life: Rhonda Myers, 53, said she came to pay respects to the family whose grief she will never know.
“It’s such a loss to see those three beautiful faces gone,” she said. “But I hope that family leaves here knowing they are loved.”
Killeen fire officials said the three girls died in a fire that ripped through their home in the 3000 block of Jason Cove about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 26, after a pot was left unattended on the stove.
The investigation into the fire is ongoing.
The Rev. LeCarlton Stephens of the Coliseum Park Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio recalled his last memories of the three girls, who attended Sunday school service at the church Jan. 14.
Stephens said the girls, as all the children in the congregation did, would come into his office and ask for candy he kept on his desk. The last time Stephens saw the sisters, he said, Chasity gave her candy to her youngest sister, Tristan-Sarah, and came back to ask for more.
Stephens said the girls’ giving spirit was a reflection of the generosity of God’s love.
“God opened the doors in our lives that no man could shut,” he said.
Stephens then addressed the family, saying their loss was a promise of hope and salvation.
“They stepped into eternity, a place where they will have to walk no more,” Stephens said. “When you see them in your dreams, know that they’re not there to harm you. It may hurt right now, but know God hasn’t brought you to where you are to leave you now.”
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