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Salisbury police to host candlelight vigil for survivors, family of homicide victims

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Police Department will host a candlelight vigil for the survivors of homicide victims to show support during what is often a difficult time of year, according to Alberta McLaughlin, the department’s victim and witness advocate.

The vigil will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 on the steps of the Rowan County Courthouse, 210 N. Main St. It is open to the public.

A month ago, the Police Department released a list of about 20 cold cases dating from 2002 to 2016 on its website in hopes of generating information and to remind people of those unsolved cases.

There are other unsolved cases that were not featured on the site.

The oldest case on the list was a shooting death that happened on April 25, 2002, when two Catawba College students, Matthew Glen Greear and Walter Frank Long, were killed at Lakewood Apartments. Long and his neighbor Greear were shot, but two others in the apartment escaped through bedroom windows.

McLaughlin said compiling the list prompted the idea for the vigil.

“It’s letting them know that we as the Police Department, we care. Also to show we hear you and we stand with you in your time of grief and loss of a loved one,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said the holidays are hard in the absence of loved ones.

She hopes that family members and friends will attend the vigil and bring photos and other items that help them connect with their loved ones.

Candles will be provided. During the ceremony, organizers will light a black candle to represent grief, a purple candle to represent courage, yellow to represent memories, red for love and green for hope.

A roll call of victims’ names will be read during the ceremony.

Police Chief Jerry Stokes will offer words of encouragement, and McLaughlin will offer a prayer. The guest speaker is expected to be a family member of a homicide victim.

One of the youngest names on the list is that of 7-year-old A’yanna Allen, who was shot by a drive-by gunman while in her grandmother’s home in December 2016.

McLaughlin said ultimately, she wants victims’ families to know that “I stand with you on this journey.”

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 707-797-4253.

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