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Lexington KY community honor students who were killed

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Dozens of community members gathered at Parkway Plaza Apartments Monday evening to grieve together and honor the lives of 13-year-old Deon Williams and 5-year-old Skyler Williams, who were tragically killed one week ago.

The vigil and balloon release was held one week after Deon and Skyler were killed in an incident in the 400 block of Rogers Road last week, according to Lexington police and the Fayette County Coroner’s office. Police were called to the area and found three people suffering injuries. All three were taken to a hospital, where the children later died.

Outside the two-story apartment building where the incident happened, people cried, hugged and mourned with one another. Nikki James, 43, the children’s mother, is accused of killing the children.

She was booked into the Fayette County Detention Center Monday afternoon on two murder – domestic violence charges.

Monday’s event was hosted by FaithPointe Church, which is within walking distance of the apartment building. The church’s senior pastor, Terry Lewis, spoke at the event along with other individuals who were part of the children’s lives.

“There’s no easy way to do this, but we felt like this would be a good opportunity to come together, just make some remarks, that their school be represented and release some balloons,” Lewis said.

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Members of the community and FaithPointe Church created a memorial during a vigil on Monday, May 9, 2022, at Parkway Plaza Apartments in Lexington, Kentucky, for Skyler Williams, 5, and Deon Williams, 13, who were killed last week. Their mother has been accused of killing the two children. Michael Clubb

The main message shared during the event was supporting and praying for one another during an emotional time. Deon and Skyler’s deaths have not only impacted the lives of people at church, but also the staff and students at their respective schools and people in the community.

Speakers also encouraged people to pray for James.

“We don’t know everything that’s went on but she needs prayer, because even though she’s living, she still has a chance to be saved,” said Natasha Owens, a minister at FaithPointe Church.

After nearly 30 minutes of remarks, scripture and a song from a teenager who attends the church, the dozens of individuals released balloons together.

“For those of us of Christian faith, I think it was that moment where we have the image of what we’ve talked about that one of these days – the old song says, ‘I’ll fly away,’” Lewis said. “Just that moment of that we’re no longer here but we’re in the presence of the Lord, but we’re still who we are. Skyler and Deon are still who they are, just in that precious place of rest in the arms of Christ.”

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Members of the community and FaithPointe Church gather during a vigil on Monday, May 9, 2022, at Parkway Plaza Apartments in Lexington, Kentucky, for Skyler Williams, 5, and Deon Williams, 13, who were killed last week. Their mother has been accused of killing the two children. Michael Clubb

‘Skyler inspired the most fun we had in class all year.’

One of the speakers at Monday’s balloon release was Skyler’s teacher at Mary Todd Elementary School, Cerise Bouchard. She shared her experience of having Skyler as a student, saying she was very active and a courageous learner.

“She’d raise her hand before I could even finish the question. Even if she didn’t have an answer, she raised her hand,” Bouchard said. “She was raising her hand before she even knew what a question and answer were. That’s how enthusiastic of a learner she was.”

Bouchard said a few months ago, she asked the class what they wanted to learn about, and Skyler suggested cooking. The class spent the next few weeks diving into their first experiences around cooking, which Bouchard described as the best lessons the class had all school year.

“Skyler inspired the most fun we had in class all year,” Bouchard said. “Everyone loved cooking and eating.”

Skyler missed school on May 2 before she was killed later that evening, according to Bouchard. She said she planned to read “The Interrupting Chicken” in class that day, which was specifically meant for Skyler and her honest but comical attitude.

“I was sad that she wasn’t there to hear it to learn that lesson,” Bouchard said.

The Wednesday after Skyler’s death, the day Bouchard planned to break the news to her class, she read her students a book called “The Goodbye Book,” written by Todd Parr.

“The last page says, ‘we all get sad when we say goodbye to someone we love. Always try to remember the happy times you shared together,’” Bouchard said.

Chris Leach is a breaking news reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He joined the newspaper in September 2021 after previously working with the Anderson News and the Cats Pause. Chris graduated from UK in December 2018.
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