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Family members are honoring their loved ones lost to violence in Fort Wayne by hanging ribbons

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FORT WAYNE Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Families came together Thursday to remember their loved ones lost to violence in Fort Wayne with a candlelit vigil and ribbon hanging. It is a part of National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. 

Brooke Wendel was 23 when she was shot and killed in February in a triple shooting where one other person was killed. Thursday, her family and friends say they want justice and they don’t want to ever forget her name. 

"She was such a good person,” her mother Amy Gillum says she thinks of what happened to her daughter every day.  

"Brooke was just at the wrong place and the wrong time,” Gillum said. “Just care for your kids, take good care of them and keep them safe.” 

The family tied a ribbon on a tree in headwaters park in her memory.  

“It’s hard losing someone so young, and it just catches you so unexpectedly,” Taylor Marlow was a close friend to Wendel. “They didn’t just take her life, they took away her future and her goals, she’s never going to get the chance to be a mother or do everything she wanted in life because of her choice.” 

Amy Davis helped organize this ribbon hanging event. 

"I want people when they see that red and black, and see those ribbons that’s representative of someone who is not here,” Davis said.  

She is the co-founder of the group called JAVA which stands for justice, accountability, and victims advocacy. 

“It’s really important because they can feel the love and support and they can connect with someone who knows what they’ve been through,” Davis said. “If you’ve never experienced this tragedy it's hard to relate to.” 

She says she lost her nephew, Codi McCann almost four years ago, and ever since she has been helping other families affected by violence by creating JAVA. 

She says the event was meant to bring families together who have experienced a similar loss and to honor their loved ones.  

"We’re here because we want to support those people and they offer the same kind of support for us,” Davis said. 

She says the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge will be lit up in the colors of red and black in honor of the local homicide victims and their families for the national day of remembrance Friday. 

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Karli VanCleave

Karli VanCleave is a multimedia journalist at WPTA for the evening newscast. Karli is a Fort Wayne native and Indiana University Bloomington graduate.
Feel free to connect with her on Facebook (@KarliVanCleaveNews) and Twitter (@Karli_VanCleave), or if you have a story idea send her an email at

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