CUMMING — The four cousins hugged, wiped away tears and scribbled messages on the canvas sheet draped between two goalposts.
“She was loving. She loved everybody,” said Jessica Carson of cousin Erin Niccole Jones, who was killed Wednesday in what authorities said was a murder-suicide.
The cousins, all women, with three from Elberton and one from Arkansas, joined a couple hundred others who gathered at North Forsyth High School on Sunday night to honor and remember Jones in a candlelight vigil.
The 28-year-old Jones, a Forsyth County 911 communications officer, was shot to death by her live-in boyfriend at their home on Maple Hill Drive in downtown Dawsonville, authorities said.
As part of Sunday’s somber ceremony, Jones’ family arrived at the school’s football field in a long police escort, embracing each other as they waited for the vigil to begin.
“My daughter was very humble and meek and from a small town,” said Jones’ mother, Tracey Childs. “But she loved big and she wanted to make a difference, and I look around and I think she did well.”
Childs thanked people for attending the vigil “and the outpouring of love through all of this.”
“Nothing can make it easy, but it certainly (has) helped.”
Her father, Mark LeFevre, said his daughter taught him to be a better parent.
“She left love wherever she went,” he said. “To me, this is a witness of the love that she had, and I just pray that we take that love and we move it forward. What this world needs is love and Erin was a model of love.”
Her brothers, Craig LeFevre and Ryan Howell, wrapped arms around each other’s shoulders as they spoke, describing Jones as a “guardian angel” and a “mother figure” who was honest and compassionate.
Outside her full-time work, Jones also served as a volunteer for Hall-Dawson Court Appointed Special Advocates, a nonprofit organization that works to ensure abused and neglected children have access to a safe, permanent home.
“She did great work for the children of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit,” said Connie Stephens, the group’s executive director. “And she was a wonderful mother of two little ones.
“It’s just a tragic event that domestic violence (ended her life). It’s such a waste.”
Stephens said Jones’ death should serve as a message to women living in domestic abuse.
“You can never underestimate when that person’s going to snap,” Stephens said. “Thank God her children were not there.”
Dawson County Sheriff’s deputies found that David Geyer II, 43, turned a gun on himself after shooting Jones about 1 p.m. Wednesday.
It is believed that Jones was on the phone with emergency dispatch when she was killed.
Rebecca McClung, assistant director of the Forsyth County 911 center, has said the tragedy has garnered “a lot more response than I initially thought.”
Members of the 911 center came up with the idea to hold the ceremony, she said, which coincided with the wishes of Jones’ family.
Jones’ coworkers at the dispatch center, where she had been working since 2011 and was a supervisor, and friends have been changing their social media profile photos to a thin yellow line surrounded by black in her memory.