Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hundreds attend candlelight vigil to support Martin's Super Market shooting victims

Posted on Jan. 18, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

ELKHART – A bit of applause and laugh came up at times, breaking the quiet, somber mood in a crowd that defied the weather and gathered in remembrance of Krystle Dikes and Rachelle Godfread Saturday night.

About 300 people came together at Martin's Super Market on Bristol Street, where 22-year-old Shawn Bair shot and killed Dikes and Godfread Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The vigil, held at 8 p.m., was organized as a tribute to the victims of the Wednesday, Jan. 15 shooting by a group of community members who wish to remain anonymous. Droves of people stood huddled together in front of the store, flowers and candles in hand.

The Elkhart Police Department's chaplain, Jason Brooks, and mayor Dick Moore, as well as Krystle Dikes' father, Shaun Dikes, spoke in front of the crowd.

“Krystle is laughing her butt off because we got a bunch off freezing people trying to keep themselves warm around an itty-bitty candle,” Shaun Dikes said of his daughter, prompting a hearty laugh from the crowds.

Shaun Dikes said that although he had planned to attend the vigil, he was not planning to talk, the number of people out Saturday night motivated to address the crowd and say a few words of thanks.

“This is incredible, very touching, and I felt like I needed to express how much this means to us to see all these people who may not have known her, may not know us are her along with many people who I recognize,” he said.

The two police officers who responded to the shooting, corporals Jason Tripp and Cody Skipper, attended the vigil and were greeted by the applause and cheers of the crowd. Senator Joe Donnelly was also there.

Several officers from the police department attended the vigil.

Elkhart Police Chief Dale Pflibsen said he couldn't tell how many officers were at the event because the officers were told it was optional to attend.

The police department had seen overwhelming levels of support from the community over the last few days, Pflibsen said.

“We've seen a lot of support, a lot of compliments. A lot of concern for the officers' well-being after going through an event like that. It's all been positive,” he said. “Nobody likes these situations but we trained and we do what we do.”

Martin's Super Market brought out flowers and candles for the attendees and several people volunteered to distribute them around the crowds.

Adam Bujalski, one of the people who volunteered to distribute flowers, said he is a regular customer at Martin's Super Market and knew Dikes because he had seen her working there.

Bujalski, who said he comes to the store every Friday to buy sushi for himself and a panini for his wife, said it's important for him that the community continues showing support for the store.

“Just because something bad happened it can't let it ruin our lives,” he said.

Bujalksi said he was not surprised to see the amount of support from the community Saturday night. “It's Elkhart,” he said. “Every time there's a tragedy the community comes together. It's what they've always done.”

Marieanne Gingerich, a woman attending the vigil who graduated with Godfread from Elkhart Central High School, said described her as sweet and innocent. She, too, was not surprised to see the number of people out at the vigil.

“Elkhart will always be a strong place,” she said. “They support one another through thick and thin.”

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