Shock and disbelief were still on the faces of many who gathered last night in Lewisville for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Ashton Ness, a 16-month-old boy who police say was killed by his father, Blair, on Aug. 19.
Motorcycle clubs, police officers, pastors and residents from across DFW in the hundreds packed Wayne Ferguson Plaza for the vigil, the crowd mostly composed of families. Bikers held bundled babies as children weaved through the plaza walkways to sign condolences on a commemorative blue banner. Allyson Sommer came with her daughter.
“I just feel for the mom. I can’t imagine what the mom is going through. I can’t imagine what the family is going through, even the family of the man who did this,” she said. “So many people were affected, the community was affected.”
Ashton died Sunday afternoon, Aug. 19. Eyewitnesses saw Blair Ness, 27, carry his son outside before throwing him to the ground and stabbing him. The attack continued until a bystander shot and hit Blair from his second-floor window, after which police dragged the father away. Blair was taken to a hospital to be treated for his wounds and was charged with capital murder two days later. His bond is set at $1.5 million.
“This one event is probably one of the most talked about events that has happened recently in Lewisville, and you can see that it is not tearing our community apart, it is actually bringing it together,” Ben Moreno, pastor of Village Creek Church, said. He was one of several pastors and community leaders who spoke during the vigil, which included Lewisville Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Brandon Jones and Councilman Bob Troyer.
To commemorate Ashton, the lights of Lewisville City Hall and Medical City Lewisville Grand Theater will be made green later this week, Troyer said.
An earlier miscommunication meant most attendees to the vigil wore blue to honor Ashton. But as the family arrived at the plaza, walking hand-in-hand, most wore green shirts, Ashton’s favorite color. They were escorted to the front of the vigil by Lewisville police officers as the vigil began.
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“As we light our candles, we’re not just lighting them to light them,” said Delvin Atchison, pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Lewisville. “It’s a covenant that we’re making. Ashton’s life is going to matter to us, and it will help each of us to make a difference. But we’re making a covenant to each other, to care about our neighbors, to carry each others' hurts as our own.”
After the candles were lit, Atchison encouraged attendees to hug at least three people before leaving. A crowd gathered around the family to offer embraces and condolences. A GoFundMe has been set up to help Ashton’s family cover expenses.
“This whole thing was just a community of love and support and I just needed to be a part of it. I needed something to help me process these feelings. I don’t know the family,” Sommer said. “I just needed some kind of positive light at the end of this.”