'It's hard to accept they're gone': vigil held for slain Gentilly family

Caresse Jackman talks to members of a family gunned down in Gentilly.

NEW ORLEANS -- Family and friends came together for a vigil Monday evening to remember a mother and her two children, gunned down in their home while they slept.

Monique Smith and her two sons, Justin and JuMyrin, were shot in their beds in the early morning hours Friday.

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"It's just hard to stay strong when something like this happens," Diamond Armwood said.

Armwood is Smith's stepdaughter.

"She treated me like I was her own daughter," Armwood said. "Yeah, she was very welcoming. She never treated me like I was an outsider." 

Every day since the shooting Armwood said the faces of Smith and her baby brothers are burned into her memory.

"I think of them as my twins," Armwood said. "You know, everybody said they act and look like me. And it's hard to accept that they're gone." 

Right now, all Armwood is clinging to is her little sister, 12-year-old A'Miya, the fourth shooting victim and lone survivor of the massacre.

"She's doing better. I haven't went to go see her yet, but I heard she's doing better than she was before," Armwood said.

Reverend Jamaal Weathersby with New Hope Baptist Church led the vigil. Weathersby said this senseless shooting impacted his entire congregation.

"It affected our church family because we have several members who were connected to the individuals to the victims of this crime," Weathersby said.

New Hope Baptist Chruch member Eric Brown did not know the family but feels for them. Brown only hopes the person who pulled the trigger finds the courage to turn themselves in.

"Our prayers are not only for that family but for that person who victimized and that their heart might be changed," Brown said.

With investigators still searching for the killer, the family's unimaginable pain and agony still lingers. However, seeing the love overflowing from everyone around them brings them a bit of comfort.

"It's nice to see people care and it's not going unnoticed," Armwood said.

Crimestoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone with information on this crime. The number is (504) 822-1111.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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