INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Samaria Blackwell had plans to become a police officer.
Her family said Blackwell, 19, was a straight-A student who could do anything she wanted. But she wanted to become a police officer because of the heroes in her family, and she loved to help people.
She never got that chance.
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“My dad looked over at me and my mom grabbed my hand and said, ‘Baby, she didn’t make it.’ That’s how I found out,” said Blackwell’s close friend, Elliana Jones.
A day of waiting, of hoping beyond hope, was in vain for Jones, as well as other friends and family of Blackwell.
Blackwell graduated from home school last spring and was the youngest of four children.
Matt Barnes’ two daughters were both close friends with Blackwell and waited with her family at the designated hotel on Friday, as families of FedEx workers hoped to hear news of their loved ones.
“She was the life of the party,” Barnes said.
Barnes said as loving and caring as Blackwell was off the court or soccer field, she was tenacious on it. Still, that love and care could come out in the middle of competition.
“If she was out on the court and things got particularly nasty, she’d be like, ‘Hey, think about good things like God or something.’ She would push people to be better,’” Barnes said.
Jones was one of Blackwell’s closest friends. They first met in youth group and then again in the home school community.
“We did not like each other at first,” Jones remembered. “I would thank her for helping me become as strong as I am. Without her, I would not be this strong. She definitely shaped me.”
The family had waited since 3 a.m. Friday without official word. Thanks to an app, they knew where her phone was. It just wasn’t responding to any calls, texts or other messages.
“They feared the worst,” Barnes said. “They were the last family to receive that notification.”
“Just hearing that she was shot by someone who she didn’t even know,” mourns Jones. “There was no reason for it.”
Blackwell was working at FedEx to earn money to help her ultimate dream of becoming a police officer. But Barnes said she had been there about two months and hadn’t even been there long enough to qualify for life insurance.
“They need all the help they can get to get through this, even financially,” he said.
Barnes started an official GoFundMe account to help the family in this time.
He said the Blackwell family appreciates prayers while they cling to their faith and an eternal hope.
“The family would want everybody to know they’re a family of faith. They love God. They knew Samaria loved God,” Barnes said. “They said they couldn’t get through this without having that faith.”
News 8 reached out to FedEx to ask what life insurance or other benefits would be provided to the victims in this case, even those who had only been on the job for a matter of weeks.
The company responded it does not disclose specifics of our benefits policies but did release this statement:
“FedEx is committed to supporting the needs of our team members and their families affected by this tragedy. We continue to provide grief counseling and resources to our team members across our operating companies in the Indianapolis area and are communicating directly with affected employees and families to discuss additional support.”
Barnes provided this full statement from Samaria’s parents, Jeff and Tammi Blackwell:
“We are thankful for the outpouring of love and support for our family. We are also praying for the families of the other victims of this tragedy. As Samaria’s parents, we were blessed by the Lord to have such a fun-loving, caring daughter as the baby of our family. Being the baby, she looked up to her siblings Elijah, Levi, and Michaiah, who, along with her dog Jasper, will miss her immensely. Samaria was tenacious in everything she did, from playing basketball and soccer to being a lifeguard for Indy Parks. On the court or the soccer field, she had a tough game face, but that quickly turned to a smile outside of competition. Samaria loved people, especially those of advanced age. She always found time to invest in the older generation, whether it was by listening or serving. She spent many hours helping Memaw Sue, from mulching flower beds to setting up Christmas decorations. As an intelligent, straight A student, Samaria could have done anything she chose to put her mind to, and because she loved helping people, she dreamed of becoming a police officer. Although that dream has been cut short, we believe that right now she is rejoicing in heaven with her Savior. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” For Samaria, that work is completed and she is sitting with Jesus today. On this side of heaven we grieve, but not as those who have no hope, for we recognize Samaria’s life has only just begun.”