CLARKSBURG — More than 100 people gathered at the Harrison County Courthouse plaza Thursday evening to honor the lives of Fred and Freddie Swiger, two newspaper carriers killed in a multiple shooting last Friday.
The mood was somber, but beneath the surface, tensions were boiling.
During the vigil, five local pastors spoke of healing and faith.
“We never understand things that happen in our lives,” said Pastor Dustin McCune of the United Methodist Temple Church. “God has a plan that’s bigger than we can see.”
But before the vigil began, many were also calling for justice and change in Clarksburg.
Michael Alastanos, one of the event organizers, said the time for change would come.
“In due time, we will unite and get a voice in City Council to where we will stand up to make these changes,” he said. “We’ve heard the same song and dance, and we’re tired.
“I lived outside of Washington, D.C., and I’ve never lived so close to murder, drugs and the stuff that we have in Clarksburg,” Alastanos said.
Family members of the Swigers said they wanted to ensure their lives were remembered.
“We want people to know that these guys worked hard,” Wayne Swiger said. “They’ve done so much for the community. I think it should be noticed.”
Family members also spoke of a need for justice.
“I want to know why that house was a drug house as long as it was and nothing was done about it,” said Bill Swiger, a nephew of the older Swiger.
Jodi Wilt of Bridgeport said she didn’t know the victims, but came to show support for the community.
“I think people are mad and fed up — scared probably,” she said.
She hoped to see city and law enforcement changes, including a crack down on rental properties.
While many attendees said change needs to come from the city of Clarksburg, others pointed to education and prevention efforts.
JoAnne McNemar, who works in substance abuse prevention, used to live on Locust Avenue.
“Fred and Freddie were my paper boys,” she said.
Read more in Friday's print edition or online