Family and friends of Keondra and Leondra Hooks, including their aunts Tamatha Hamilton, left, and Bernice Neal, center, pray during a vigil at Moody Manor, where the girls were shot late Thursday.
Surrounded by mourners, Quentorria Snowden gripped a candle and a balloon. She closed her eyes, prayed, and finally let go of the light-blue balloon with the words "thinking of you" printed in the middle.
As the balloon slowly rose to the sky, she burst into tears. Words had failed her as she thought of her 1-year-old child, Keondra Hooks, who died Friday morning after being shot in an apartment at Moody Manor in Toledo.
Keondra's sister, 2-year-old Leondra, who was also shot in the incident, remained in serious condition at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center on Saturday evening.
PHOTO GALLERY: Moody manor shooting vigil
RELATED CONTENT: 2012 Blade Homicide Report
Keondra's death was the 21st homicide in Toledo in 2012 and the 29th in the metro area.
More than 50 people attended the vigil Saturday outside of the apartment where the sisters were shot late Thursday night while sleeping on the living-room floor.
"Gunshot. Baby dead. No hope," said Tamatha Pride, a relative of the family.
Naomi Reed, center, is comforted after a prayer for her granddaughters, Keondra, 1, and Leondra, 2. More than 50 people turned out for the vigil for the girls Saturday and to comfort her relatives.
Ms. Pride was in the same room as the girls when numerous shots were fired and the girls were struck. She said she heard the gunshots and saw smoke.
"It was very scary. I didn't know that the babies were hit until I saw the blood," Ms. Pride said, tears in her eyes. "They didn't deserve that. … That really traumatized me."
Leondra's great-grandmother Naomi Reed was also in the apartment when the shooting occurred.
Like many other relatives, Ms. Reed wore a special T-shirt at the vigil. A photo of Keondra was on Ms. Reed's purple T-shirt, with the line "great-grandmother" above and the word "baby" below. In the photo, Keondra is smiling.
"She fought. She fought for a long time. But it was too much and she couldn't fight anymore," said Lasandra Lucas, the sisters' grandmother. Mrs. Lucas said the family's nickname for Keondra was "Ke Ke."
"I feel like I'm in a dream, like I'm going to wake up any time." Mrs. Lucas said.
Dr. Cynthia Beisser, Lucas County deputy coroner, has ruled Keondra's death a homicide and that she died of a gunshot wound in the head.
About 6:30 p.m., members of the community gathered outside the apartment, all holding candles. Friends and neighbors formed a circle and surrounded the victims' family.
As the Rev. Randall Parker III, pastor of Manifested Word Church of Toledo, led the vigil, attendees sang and prayed for the victims. Given balloons, children released them into the sky after the prayer.
"I ask you to pray for the people, persons that did this," Ms. Reed told the crowd. "Because I don't hate them. I actually feel sorry for them."
Mr. Parker added, "Your voice matters. … It takes a village to raise a child. We need to build that village together." He called on Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and the Toledo Police Department to take action.
"The mayor and police need to take control. A 1-year-old baby girl is shot dead. Now it is time to impose strong measures. This place is controlled by young people and the gangs, but not the people from the diocese," said Jack Ford, former mayor of Toledo, who offered condolences to the family.
The Toledo Police Department has no updates on the search for the perpetrator of the crime.
"Whoever that did that, you are a coward," Mrs. Lucas said. "Be a man or a woman and stand up. Turn yourself in."
"I just buried another grandson. I can't take it anymore. They are supposed to bury me," Mrs. Lucas said, sobbing.
The children's aunt Tamatha Hamilton said the family is sticking together. "We received a lot of community support," she said. "Keep us in prayer. We need it. We really do."
"It is heating everybody up. It was a child who didn't even have a chance to live life," said Marthia Russell of Toledo, whose aunt lives in Moody Manor. Ms. Russell was one of many area residents who attended the vigil to support the victims' relatives.
Larry Sykes, a member of the Toledo Public Schools Board of Education, also attended and said the killings in the city must end.
"Our children have been killing one another for some time. … It's time for the killing to stop. We as elected officials need to step up and put in place actions to stop the violence," Mr. Skyes said. "When you have infestation in your home or your neighborhood, you do whatever you can to exterminate those cockroaches and rats. That's where we are at now."
Mr. Parker, the pastor, called on the community to band together. "We have been separated for too long. We need to speak up against violence as one unit," he said.
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