Victims' Families Draw Strength from Each Other

The most violent workplace shooting in Lauderdale County's history was remembered Wednesday, along with the victims' families who are still trying to recover from the pain and loss.

Six people were murdered at Lockheed July 8, 2003, and eight others were injured before shooter Doug Williams took his own life.

For many, the wounds are still fresh. Family members of the victims gathered at Union Station. One by one, family and friends of the six people who died--Sam Cockrell, DeLois Bailey, Mickey Fitzgerald, Charlie Miller, Lanette McCall, and Thomas Willis--lit candles for their loved ones.

It was part of a reconciliation luncheon sponsored by Mission Meridian. Six years after the event organizers say it's still important to remember.

"So our yearly gathering is to keep people talking," said Charlotte Scott of Mission Meridian. "Keep people in the forefront so people can talk to each other. There might be something going on in the workplace, in the home to where people talk about it and maybe we can minister to the person that's hurting and prevent something from happening like this again."

"These same families, despite what they endured, saw an opportunity to use tragedy to bring people together and to bring our community together," said Mayor Cheri Barry.

"It just blessed my heart because my son still is known for what he did," said Annie Cockrell, mother of Sam Cockrell.

"It does get hard, especially when this week comes up," said Tammy Fitzgerald, widow of Mickey Fitzgerald.

"Sometimes people don't want to hear it and we feel bad, like we're forcing it on people. But since we've got permission, we can do it this week," said the Rev. Jinnell Fox Miller, widow of Rev. Charles Miller. "This will give us time to exhale and relax a little bit and get rid of some of this burned up energy and we can go on for another while."

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  • by Dave on Jul 9, 2009 at 05:03 PM
    While Doug Williams family also hurts and needs friends and caring, you have to be kidding about others paying RESPECTS to a man who killed six people. Not happening, Anonymous. I will say a prayer for his family though.
  • by Ang Location: Collinsville, MS on Jul 9, 2009 at 12:19 PM
    I feel for all the families, but there comes a point that perhaps, just a quiet ceremony on the anniversary date including the families and friends, but no news media. I'm sure, for the families, it's still painful every day of the year.
  • by BJ on Jul 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM
    I don't know what you mean about the Doug Williams family being shunned. Did they wish to attend and were turned away? I don't think so. There is a core difference in his family suffering the loss of him and these other families losing their loved ones. The loved ones of these other families were murdered by Doug Williams. Doug Williams chose to do that. The real victims did not choose to be shot to death. Doug Williams took his own life. He was not murdered as he stood unarmed doing his job and not hurting anyone. Do you see the difference here? It's a really big difference. Doug Williams had a family and friends who, no doubt, cared for him. He did this to them, too, but by his own choice. I don't know all these families, but I know Jinnell Miller. That lovely woman would not turn anyone away who wished to attend, mourn and heal.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 9, 2009 at 10:53 AM
    You know, there was one other family that was left out. Left out by the judgment we put on people, which is not left to us, but reserved by God, the Almighty Creator. Doug Williams had a family, too. That family is shunned for something they did not do. I suppose we should learn to be loyal judges and not pay respects to the dead we deem responsible. Perhaps on judgment day we will see we are all fallible.
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