Heart sculpture honors grocery shooting victims

Provided Photo
Provided Photo

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — A large sculpture of a heart is now in place as a memorial outside the northern Indiana grocery store where a gunman killed two women in January.

The heart standing about 5 feet tall and painted with the words “love,” ”hope,” and “unity” was unveiled during a ceremony Thursday at the Martin’s Super Market in Elkhart. A plaque on its base has the names of the slain women — 20-year-old store employee Krystle Dikes and 44-year-old shopper Rachelle Godfread.

Dikes’ mother, Juanita Whitacre, told reporters that the heart and the wording on it are signs of all the support her family has received since the attack.

“I think she would love it, she was a big artist, she loved all things art,” Whitacre said about her daughter. “Every time I drive by, which will be every day, I will see it and think of her.”

The sculpture was donated by the Elkhart General Hospital Foundation from its Have a Heart public art fundraiser.

Martin’s CEO Rob Bartel said during the ceremony that “this was an example of folks refusing to be defined by evil.”

State and local officials have honored Elkhart police Cpls. Jason Tripp and Cody Skipper for bravery for their quick response to the shooting the night of Jan. 15.

Officials say the officers confronted 22-year-old Shawn Bair as he threatened to shoot a store manager. A coroner was unable to determine whether Bair died from a gunshot to his heart by police or a self-inflicted head wound because they occurred nearly simultaneously.

The county prosecutor said Bair didn’t appear to have a specific target but appeared intent on committing suicide.

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