INDIANAPOLIS — The family of one of the youngest victims in the FedEx mass shooting is laying the young woman to rest on Monday.
Her family invited 13News reporter Rich Nye to talk with Samaria’s father, Jeff Blackwell, before the visitation and funeral Monday morning.
Samaria, 19, was named after the Good Samaritan, a story Jesus told in the Bible about loving your neighbor.
"She became that protector, that provider, that lover, and served and just loved on people. Samaria really did find the outcast and hung on to them, and the oddballs, and so she just kind of grew into her name," Jeff Blackwell said of his daughter.
Samaria wanted to serve by becoming a police officer. Law enforcement honored her like one of their own with an escort to the gravesite from the funeral at Southport Heights Christian Church.
The Avon Police Department is collecting patches from departments around the country in her honor.
Jeff said support for his family has come from all over the community.
"People have come from all directions as the hands and feet of God, just loving and caring for us, but providing needs and things we did not know. My story is all the same every time. I do not know how someone goes through something like this without God," he said.
At 19, Samaria was the youngest of Jeff and Tammi Blackwell's four children. She was working a second job overnights at FedEx to save money to buy a car. She had worked there about three months when she was shot and killed outside the building.
Jeff said his family prays for all the victims' families, even the shooter's family.
"I cannot imagine how their grief is doubled beyond top of ours. We pray that God's love will surround you and you will sense His presence in a profound way," he said.
Samaria Blackwell was a recent homeschool high school graduate who played basketball and soccer and was a lifeguard with Indy Parks.
The Blackwell family is left without their daughter, but not without hope.
"God is using this entire situation to tell people that he's real. God really exists and that we're not guaranteed tomorrow," Jeff said.
Samaria was one of the eight victims killed in the April 15 mass shooting at the FedEx Ground facility at 8951 Mirabel Road. The other victims include:
- Matthew R. Alexander, 32 years old
- Amarjeet Johal, 66 years old
- Jasvinder Kaur, 50 years old
- Amarjit Sekhon, 48 years old
- Jaswinder Singh, 68 years old
- Karli Smith, 19 years old
- John Weisert, 74 years old
The Blackwell family established a GoFundMe to assist with Samaria's funeral and other expenses.
On Monday, Samaria's father Jeff Blackwell released the following statement:
On behalf of our family I want to say thank you to all who have demonstrated such incredible love to our family the past 10 days or so. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Your love has reached through the fog of our sorrow and has been felt. We covet your prayers going forward as well.
Samaria was the baby of our family. We loved her with all our hearts and long for the day when we can see her again. We have hope because we believe in the promises of God, and while we cannot bring her back, we can go to her. Samaria recognized her need for a Savior, put her faith in Jesus Christ, and was baptized at a young age. The Bible says that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. The Scriptures also say that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
We look forward to that joy, but until then we will honor Samaria's memory. While her race in this life was short, she lived it to the fullest. She was funny, thoughtful, and sincere. To know her was to love her. We hope that everyone who hears my words will experience the love of God as we have, and will be able to spend eternity with Jesus and with Samaria.
We want to thank the IMPD officers and chaplains who sat with us while we waited for the news. Particularly Beverly Wilson and Helen Jackson who serve as Victim Assistance Counselors with the IMPD. They went above and beyond their duty to serve our family.
We are praying for the officers who had to process the crime scene. In all of our interactions with IMPD we found them to be professional, compassionate, and caring. They embodied the reasons Samaria wanted to join their ranks and we will never forget their kindness.
We also want to say that we are praying for all of the other families who are experiencing this horrible loss. We especially want to say that we are praying for the Hole family. I cannot imagine how your grief is doubled. We pray that God's love will surround you and you will sense His presence in a profound way.
I will close with a few Bible verses that Samaria had picked out for her basketball senior night ceremony - Romans 8:37-39
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."