SOUTHPORT, Ind. (WISH) — Nineteen-year-old Samaria Blackwell was laid to rest on Monday.
She was one of the eight people killed in the FedEx shooting a week and a half ago.
“Today is a tough day. Today is a sad day, but it is a day that is not without hope,” Tim Jensen, her former basketball coach, said.
There have been many reports of Blackwell’s hopes of becoming a police officer. Six different police departments from across the state were at the service and took part in the large police procession that led family and friends to the grave site. Those departments include IMPD, Avon, Beech Grove, Portland, Southport and the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department.
The parking lot was packed at Southport Heights Christian Church for Blackwell’s service. It is estimated that 500 people were at the service but even more people came to show their respects during the visitation.
“The people that are in there and the people that you will see are just a testament to everything that she has done and the people that she has affected,” Jensen said.
While Southport Heights isn’t the families current church, it is the church that Samaria’s parents were married in.
“It is really overwhelming and I think the family is sensing that,” Matthew Barnes, a representative for the family, said.
Blackwell’s family spoke for the first time publicly since her passing by releasing a statement the day of her funeral.
“On behalf of our family I want to say thank you to all who have demonstrated such incredible love to our family the past 10 days or so. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Your love has reached through the fog of our sorrow and has been felt. We covet your prayers going forward as well.
Samaria was the baby of our family. We loved her with all our hearts and long for the day when we can see her again. We have hope because we believe in the promises of God, and while we cannot bring her back, we can go to her. Samaria recognized her need for a Savior, put her faith in Jesus Christ, and was baptized at a young age. The Bible says that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. The Scriptures also say that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
We look forward to that joy, but until then we will honor Samaria’s memory. While her race in this life was short, she lived it to the fullest. She was funny, thoughtful, and sincere. To know her was to love her. We hope that everyone who hears my words will experience the love of God as we have, and will be able to spend eternity with Jesus and with Samaria.
We want to thank the IMPD officers and chaplains who sat with us while we waited for the news. Particularly Beverly Wilson and Helen Jackson who serve as Victim Assistance Counselors with the IMPD. They went above and beyond their duty to serve our family.
We are praying for the officers who had to process the crime scene. In all of our interactions with IMPD we found them to be professional, compassionate, and caring. They embodied the reasons Samaria wanted to join their ranks and we will never forget their kindness.
We also want to say that we are praying for all of the other families who are experiencing this horrible loss. We especially want to say that we are praying for the Hole family. I cannot imagine how your grief is doubled. We pray that God’s love will surround you and you will sense His presence in a profound way.
I will close with a few Bible verses that Samaria had picked out for her basketball senior night ceremony – Romans 8:37-39
“’In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”
Jeff Blackwell, Samaria’s father
“I think in heaven they are celebrating today. Samaria is experiencing a life that we could only hope to experience in the future,” Jensen said.
During her service, family and friends shared memories of the bright and “fiercely loyal” teen.
“It was a time of laughter, it was a celebration of life more than mourning a loss in there today,” Barnes said.
They worshiped through song and held each other closely as they prepared to say goodbye.
“There were laughs there were tears, but it was a great time of honestly, worship, inside the service today,” Barnes said.
The Patches for Stiches project has garnered worldwide attention. The project was named Stitches, honoring a nickname Blackwell had earned following a basketball injury.
“We have over 200 patches that have arrived from departments throughout this country and even outside the United States,” Deputy Chief Brian Nugent of the Avon Police Department said.
Nugent says when all of the patches have arrived at the station they will work with the family to decide how to display them. Police say they have already gotten offers for people to put them on a blanket and create a board displaying them all.
The Indianapolis Indians also made a custom jersey that was displayed at the front of the church with Blackwell’s name and high school number on the back.