Standing in a park across the street from Club Majestic, the Rev. Willie Phillips held Charles Fosters college degree to the night sky Saturday and asked those gathered for a candlelight vigil to always remember the slain man.
I held it up for all these young people to see and dont forget about this, Phillips said to more than 30 family and friends of Foster. Strive to get their degree, get their diploma. Dont let this be in vain what happened here tonight.
Nearly two weeks after the nightclub shooting left Foster, 24, dead and six others wounded at 2102 Cusseta Road, Phillips held a service to remember a young man who always had a smile on his face and strived to become a judge.
Foster was scheduled to graduate this spring from Columbus State University, but officials presented it posthumously Jan. 5 at his funeral.
He put everything he had into going to school, said Phillips, president of Winterfield on the Move Against Drugs. He wont be able to use it. It is heartbreaking.
Phillips told family members they were not alone in the days ahead. Even before Foster was gunned down, the minister said he wanted to tear down the business, now under investigation for serving minors and other possible violations.
We want to close this place, tear it down and erect something that will remember this young man, he said. This was an intelligent, smart young man.
Jessie Foster, his mother, said the vigil was important to her and it showed how much people knew Charles.
I know he was well known, but this support is so warm hearted, Foster said, choking back tears and wiping her eyes. I dont have the words to express what this really means.
She agrees the club needs to be shut down. Police have arrested one suspect and are searching for a second in connection with the shooting inside and outside the business.
All we want is justice, she said. I feel like this is not a safe place and it needs closing down.
Latoria Foster, his 31-year-old sister, recalled how the two of them joked around at her home on New Years Eve. When she arrived home from an out-of-town trip, Latoria said her brother was helping himself to some of her food. He said its going to spoil anyway.
It has been tough for Latoria since he was shot.
I still cry, she said. I last saw him and it hurts. I forgive the people whoever shot him. There is a hole in my heart where he is supposed to be at. Things are not the same anymore.
She described the fatal shooting as something that could have happened anywhere but God chose him.
He could have been at work when it happened or he could have been driving down the road when it happened, she said. God knows he wanted to take an angel from this earth. He wanted to take a good angel.