Candlelight vigil honors teens killed in shooting

Published 8:29 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

Nearly 48 hours after the tragic shooting deaths of 16-year-old girls Adrianna Castro and Kayla Holland, members of the Winchester community gathered at the steps of the Clark County Courthouse in an attempt to heal.

Hundreds of people — a large portion of them students from George Rogers Clark High School — gathered together around a poster showing photos of the girls and reading “Adrianna Castro and Kayla Holland — gone too soon.”

As waves of people added to the crowd and the darkness of the November evening gave way to a flood of candlelight, Lighthouse Church of God Pastor Ryan Dotson and other pastors and community leaders spoke to those present.

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“Grief is the price you pay for love, when you love with all your heart” Dotson said. “You would not be here tonight if you did not love these precious girls, if you did not love your community.”

He recalled that Castro had been active at Lighthouse for nine years.

“For nine years I watched that girl grow up,” Dotson said. “At this young age… nobody deserves this.”

He said he did not know Holland, but she, like Castro were “victims of circumstance” who died too young.

Coroner Robert Gayheart led the group in a prayer, saying he hopes the tragedy will bring people together in order to create “a better community, not a bitter community.”

Following remarks from clergy, as well as Mayor Ed Burtner and Judge-Executive Henry Branham, the crowd sang “Amazing Grace” together, lifting their candles to the sky.

As the song ended and melody was replaced with silent sobs, local clergy offered counseling to those in the group who were hurting. As the service concluded, the crowd dispersed quietly, with small groups of friends and families remaining together to support each other and talk with clergy, who offered advice.

“As I look around here and see the tears and see you holding each other, I want to encourage you tonight to lean heavily on your friends,” Dotson said. “Pull close to each other, because grief is a process, it’s a type of healing in our lives.”