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'We come together today as a people who are broken': Sumter residents hold vigil for children killed Tuesday

Faith leaders came together to try to provide peace for the community.

SUMTER, S.C. — The Sumter community, on Sunday, mourned the loss of three children who were who lost their lives in a Tuesday shooting. 

Community members, still reeling from their murder, organized a vigil to remember Ava, Aason, and Aayden.

“We come together today as a people who are broken. By an act of senseless violence,” one resident said.

Late Tuesday night, Sumter police were called to the Woodridge neighborhood where investigators said Charles Slacks Jr. killed the three children and a decorated Army sergeant major before killing himself.

But in a time of immense sadness, neighbors made a point to remember the joy Ava, Aason, and Aayden brought to the world.

“Hearing about their little guy and how he knew all of the names of his dinosaurs, it really hit home for me because that’s kind of how my six-year-old is," resident Michael Lottes said. "It kind of makes you realize it’s not a given; today is not a given; tomorrow is not a given.”

While community members mourned, faith leaders worked to uplift and provide peace.

“We, today, want to give the community hope and the families that are hurting,"  Nate Brock with Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church said. "And there are so many families that are hurting - not just those that are experiencing death right now but for so many other reasons. As chief Roark said, our police chief, the police department is hurting, the coroner’s office is hurting, the base is hurting.” 

Sumter Mayor David merchant attended and said residents are fulfilling the purpose of the community.

“Our motto is uncommon patriotism. We love our military and patriotic system, but over the last week we’ve seen uncommon compassion,” Mayor Merchant said.

The public visitation for the children is Thursday, March 30th at Job’s Mortuary. It will be from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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