One year later, shooting spree still a vivid memory

By Ronald MacArthur

On the first anniversary (April 7) of the shooting spree that started in Laurel and ended in Salisbury, family members, elected officials, police, clergy and residents gathered in Laurel to memorialize the two men who were slain and pay tribute to the four who were wounded. A magnolia tree with a plaque was dedicated in the Laurel Market Square Park following a ceremony in the Laurel Senior Center. Jarnell Weston, 24, of Laurel and Davondale "Pete" Peters, 28, of Salisbury were allegedly slain by Allison Lamont Norman, 23, of Seaford, who was moved to Delaware from Maryland on April 7 to face murder charges and the death penalty. Marcus Cannon, Carla Green, Marsha Henderson and Anthony White were wounded in the spree that started in the morning of April 7 at Carvel Gardens. In Delaware, Norman faces several charges including one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of weapons charges. He had been held in the Wicomico County Detention Center since his arrest last April. Officials agreed that Norman should stand trial in Delaware. "Just like all of us remember 9-11, I'll never forget that day," said Laurel Mayor John Shwed, one of the speakers during the ceremony. "I ended up spending the whole day with family members, police and members of the media. And the day ended that night at North Laurel Elementary School when we met with members of the community to answer questions. As long as I live, I will never forget the events of that day. "It's fitting that we honor the memory of Jarnell Weston and Pete Peters," he added. "It's a day for remembering and a day to dedicate ourselves to eliminating violence from our society. It's also a time to reflect on how fragile a gift life is; we never know what lies ahead of us. "Bad things happen to good people." The mayor thanked the public works department for their work in the park and the police department for their dedication to the town, and he had a special thanks to Laurel Councilwoman Terri Wright, who coordinated the event on behalf of the town. The Rev. Keith Wongas of the Bible Center in Laurel talked about the importance of saving our young people. "Our young people are looking for something to believe in; they need good role models. We need to ask ourselves - are we being good examples for our young people?

"Those of us who are old need to set an example. Christ is good enough for us so he should be good enough for the younger generation," he added. There were many "amens" from the audience after that statement. "Christ is the answer to help them transform their lives. Christ is the answer because it is something I have experienced myself - he transformed my life. There are many who are trying to take God out of our society when we need to put God back in our society. "And remember these families who are still hurting; they need our prayers," he added. In the park just outside the senior center, the Rev. John VanTine offered words from the Bible to dedicate the tree and plaque in a brief ceremony. Family members spent a few moments gathering around the plaque comforting one another. "We praise God and appreciate this show of love," said Keyona Weston fighting back tears. She is a sister of one of the victims. "We'll come visit this memorial all the time," she added. "And we still think about what happened every day and every night," added her mother, Iris Weston. The mother of the other victim, Sylvania Jackson, also attended the ceremony with members of her family. "God put this in my heart," Wright said following the ceremony. "I'm so proud and it's so positive that people are showing their love and care for the victims and their families." She added that the choice of a magnolia tree was an easy one. "The leaves that fall are the tears we have shed and the beautiful blooms show the hope that we have," she said. She added that all of the focus has been on the shooter and it was time to refocus attention on the victims and their families. The Rev. Van Tine of Centenary United Methodist Church was emcee of the event and Dannora Elzey and Bruce Willey provided songs.

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