TAFT – On Friday, residents of Taft regained some of the sense of community that was stolen from their hometown less than a week ago.
Gathering Friday night at the same spot where Sherika Bowler, 39, was killed and eight others were injured in a shooting early Sunday during the city’s Memorial Day festival, residents and families of the victims attempted to initiate healing through fellowship and gathering around The Bowler family.
Her mother, Paulette Bowler, told the rally that she was still sometimes in disbelief that her daughter was gone.
“This past week has been the hardest of my life,” she said. “I thought losing my husband was hard, but losing my child was harder. It was like a dream until I went to the funeral home and realized it was real.
“I have to bury my daughter.
No mother should ever have to watch her child die before her, said Paulette Bowler, and seeing Sherika Bowler’s 5-year-old daughter pleading for her mother to come back is something she never thought she would hear.
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“To have her baby cry, ‘I want my mommy,’ that’s a hard thing to hear and to keep my mental state strong to comfort her,” Paulette Bowler said. “She and her mom were so close, and I know she misses her mom, because I miss her mom. But I will be there to love her like her mother loved her.
For Blanche Lang, Sherika Bowler’s older sister, it’s more than losing a sister. It’s losing your best friend.
“I think at any time she’ll come back through that door,” Lang said. “I prepare the funeral program, and for 15 years, it is me and her who coordinate things. It’s hard for me to sit in front of my laptop and not call her to talk about it.
Seeing the Taft community come together to support her family has strengthened Lang, she says, because she knows that “if it wasn’t her (Sherika Bowler) and it was somebody else, she would be there to organize the event for their family. “Lang said.
“To see the community caring enough to put this on for us means a lot.”
Reverend Rodger Cutler, president of the Muskogee NAACP chapter that partially sponsored the rally, said the event had a larger purpose for the community as well as to support Bowler’s family.
It was to heal and bring joy and a sense of security back to the very place where the violent act tore those feelings away on Sunday.
“We don’t want the residents here to become fearful to the point where they don’t come to the (memorial) or fellowship together,” Cutler said. “(This event) gives a feeling of healing. I hope this gathering can bring back a sense of community that has always been here.
On the same day the community of Taft reclaimed its downtown area, the first man charged in the shooting was charged with murder and shooting with intent to kill, according to a prosecutor who said he expects more people are also charged.
Skylar Buckner, 26, made his first appearance in Muskogee County District Court on Friday afternoon, where District Attorney Larry Edwards said he was charged with one count of first-degree murder and eight shot counts with intent to kill.
So far, Buckner’s case has not appeared in online court records, and a representative from the Muskogee County Clerk’s Office said he has not yet received any court records.
Initial reports said eight people had been shot, but the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reported Thursday afternoon that a ninth person, a 19-year-old woman, was also injured in the deluge. of gunshots. She was taken by ambulance to a Tulsa hospital, where she remains in stable condition, OBSI said.
OBSI also said Thursday that “officers have determined that multiple suspects were involved and multiple weapons were used in the shooting.”
Edwards said Friday his office hopes to charge more people as the investigation continues.
Lang said that while there is some anger over her sister’s death, she has already forgiven the people who did.
“I’m extending an olive branch,” Lang said. “I extend love to them and forgive them.”
She also has a plea for others involved in the shooting: acknowledge it and surrender.
“It wasn’t just (Buckner),” Lang said. “Don’t be cowards, be men and take responsibility for what you have done.”
Featured Video: 1 Dead, 7 Injured in Muskogee County Shooting