ALTON - It was an emotional night on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, for the friends, family and community members who gathered for a candlelight vigil in honor of a 13-year-old girl who was shot in Alton.

Organized by Fourth Ward Alderwoman Rosetta Brown and concerned citizen Missy Johnson, the vigil invited community members to speak against gun violence and pray for the 13-year-old who was shot on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Mayor David Goins, Police Chief Jarrett Ford and others offered prayers for the child and her family.

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“This senseless incident, this senseless act of violence has brought us all together to unify us and to cause us to come together, hold up one another and be there for one another and support one another as we deal with this tragic, tragic incident and continue to pray for this young lady and the family and everybody who’s been affected,” Goins said. “Lord, even though we don't understand why, we trust You…We look to You for strength. We look to You for comfort. We look to You for courage, courage to stand up and speak out against violence, courage to stand up and to speak out and speak to our young people. We just need courage, Lord.”

The child's father described her as “a great girl.”Other speakers included the child’s friends, classmates and teachers, who said she is a funny, kind kid. Her father described his daughter as “a great girl” who loves TikTok and is excited to welcome a new sibling soon.

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“It’s indescribable,” he said. “They took my baby away from me. I understand she was 13, but that was my baby. She was mine.”

Others prayed for justice and encouraged parents to love their children unconditionally. The evening ended with a prayer by Paula Covington, who spoke about reclaiming the community from gun violence.

“In our city, we shall take back what’s ours and we shall take it back now,” Covington said. “We shall take it back by force. How with force? Through prayer. How with force? Through unity. How with force? Through love.”

Two men were charged in connection with the shooting. The 13-year-old remains in critical condition.

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