COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Aziariah Brownlee, a recent victim, was remembered and honored Sunday evening by friends and family after her sudden death on Friday night.
The Columbia Police Department arrested John Lonce Williamson III, 27, of Columbia early Saturday morning in connection to Brownlee's death.
According to a news release from the department, Williamson was arrested for first-degree murder and armed criminal action. The alleged homicide happened at 10 p.m. on Friday in the 1500 block of Typhoon Court for a reported assault. According to the release, officers found an adult female, later identified as Brownlee, who was suffering from life-threatening injuries.
Reverend James Gray expressed concern about the prevailing violence in the community, emphasizing the need to put an end to it.
"A child is not supposed to lose their mother, especially in a situation like that. Violence. There's been way too much that's going on in our community, and we got to put a stop to it," Gray said.
Attendees wore shirts featuring Brownlee's image or wore purple in remembrance, releasing purple balloons into the sky as a symbolic gesture of remembrance and solidarity.
Many described Brownlee as a beautiful soul, characterized by her caring nature and celebrated for being a fantastic mother, with her daughter, Zarionna, at the very center of her world.
"She was a beautiful person, and she loved her daughter to death. She did, she really did," said Monica Simmons.
The memorial became a platform for loved ones to share stories about Azariah. Emotions ran high, and her daughter attempted to make her speech but was overcome with tears, making it difficult to articulate her words.
The family started a GoFundMe to raise $5,000 to cover funeral expenses. The family asks if anyone is capable to donate.
The gathering became not only a remembrance of Aziariah Brownlee but also a somber call to action against the broader backdrop of societal challenges.