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Families, community come together for memorial service to honor victims of NW Baltimore gas explosion

Posted at 10:46 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 07:20:53-04

BALTIMORE — A drive-thru memorial service was held outside of Empowerment Temple AME Church Monday to honor the lives of the two people killed in the NW Baltimore gas explosion .

About two dozen community members joined the families of Joseph Graham, 20 and Lonnie Herriott, 61, to show their support.

The day marked one week since the explosion took their loved ones, while injuring several others.

“Nothing can quite be done to wipe away the pain and tears,” said Pastor G.J Barnes, whose church will take care of funeral expenses for both victims. “But there is something to say when while you’re going through that, especially in this socially-distanced times, where you can perceive and understand that people are here to support.”

Due to the pandemic, about 20-25 cars lined up in the church’s parking lot as people drove by honking their horns and dropping off donations for the families who are seeking help with unexpected funeral expenses.

“To see people step up, to see people donate, share their cards, share their well wishes [and] share their prayers, I think it’s been a source of strength as much as it can be for the family,” Barnes said.

Kathleen Mooring didn’t know either family, but decided to come pay her respects. Mooring said last week’s explosion “hit her heart” and decided to attend the service to donate an undisclosed amount of money to the families.

“I don’t know the family, but I know the family in spirit,” she said. “God says to love my neighbors therefore I love them as my next-door neighbor.”

Melvin Stukes, who also donated to the families, said he is hoping the community’s support can help uplift them during these difficult times.

“There is no amount of money. No amount of even time, but the most valuable thing we got that we can give is our time and show our support to those families that we can grieve with them and hopefully we’ll be able to make the burden of what occurred a little bit lighter than what it is,” said Stukes.

The church also announced during the service that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and former Raven Ray Lewis donated $5,000 each to the victims families.

If you would like to help, you can donate at baltimorestrong.org