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After SXSW crash and deaths, Austin pauses to pray for victims

For seven years St. David's Episcopal Church has served as a concert venue for Austin's vibrant South by Southwest Conference. This week it also became a place for mourning.

Holding flowers and sheets of paper with prayers, about 100 people gathered outside the on church to mourn 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr of Amsterdam and 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West of Austin, who were struck and killed when a car plowed into a crowd early Thursday.

Twenty-three others were injured. Rashad Charjuan Owens, a 21-year-old music producer from Killeen, Texas, has been arrested.

Those who gathered at St. David's on Thursday assembled at the church's labyrinth, a maze pattern on the ground that worshippers can walk in times of reflection.

"We wanted to provide a time and place for the community to come together and pray and give thanks to the first responders," the Rev. Kathie Wright, the church's associate rector, told the Los Angeles Times. "When a tragedy like this strikes in the downtown area, as I tell other people, don't ask me to sing -- but I can pray."

And pray they did, many while holding flowers.

"We invited people to take a flower and wear it or hold it as a symbol of hope," she said. "So they know that even in the midst of some tragedy like this, there is beauty."

Wright, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and the Rev. Bob Gribble, the church's associate priest, briefly addressed the vigil, which lasted about 20 minutes.

Just two hours after the vigil, Wright said, bands would perform at the church's venue as planned.

"Too much effort and work has gone into producing this to allow the actions of one person to destroy it," she said.

ALSO:

Reports: Florida movie theater shooter also sent text message

Gas odor worried caller before deadly NYC blast but was not reported

Suspect in SXSW deadly crashes identified as Rashad Charjuan Owens

 

saba.hamedy@latimes.com

Twitter: @saba_h

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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