WILLISTON, N.D. - Family, friends, and strangers gathered in Williston Friday night to support those grieving the loss of nine women and children that were shot and killed earlier this week in Mexico.
It was a night of remembrance, where more than 100 people sang hymns, prayed, and shared memories because the deaths hit close-to-home for many in Williston.
“A lot of them work up here, Lebarons, Langfords, Millers, and I’ve got to know them very well. I just love them. They’re so dear, and they’re service-oriented people that would do anything for anybody," said Mark Maddocks, family friend.
Around 100 family members from the area traveled to Mexico for funerals, including Christina Langford’s husband, who was working in Williston when he heard the news of his wife’s death. His 7-month-old daughter, Faith, was found alive, hidden by her mother in an SUV.
“These mothers gave their lives for their children, they were protecting their children. Motherhood is just a sacred thing, and it was expressed by those three women that gave their last full devotion for that cause,” said Pete Isom, Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The relatives who stayed in Williston want their family to know they are not alone when they come home.
Tiffany Langford grew up with Christina Langford in La Mora, Mexico, and is related to both Dawna Langford and Rhonita Miller.
She said she can’t imagine what their husbands and kids are going through.
“I know that I’m close and they’re my family and I feel it, but it’s not the same as losing someone who you see every single day. So I just really hope that they can heal. I hope that they can be strengthened through all of this," said Tiffany.
Tiffany said they are all still trying to understand what happened.
"The three families traveled in a group. That’s how it always was when women and children would leave. They would travel in a group for a sense of security, but apparently in this instance, traveling in a group didn’t help,“ said Joe Uzdavinis, family friend stated.
Friends and family say it doesn’t make sense, but it brings perspective.
“It really makes you think twice about your priorities in life; what really matters. It’s family. It’s children. Hug your loved-ones because you never know when crazy things can happen," said Maddocks.
The family says now they hope something will be done to reduce the amount of dangerous activities that occur just south of the border, so this never happens again.