They came to remember.
More than 500 people gathered in a parking lot to mourn the loss of a young woman whose life was cut short in another parking lot across town.
They came to hug, to cry together, to smile together, to laugh together, to remember together, and to be together. Friends, family, classmates, co-workers, bosses, and total strangers came to the parking lot at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown on Wednesday night to celebrate the life of Mariam Folashade Adebayo, the friend they all called Shadé, who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in the Target parking lot a little more than 48 hours earlier.
“Anyone who knew Shadé knows that Shadé always just wanted everyone to be happy, and be friends, and be together,” said Jenna Santucci, one of Shadé’s friends. There were many who came to share stories about Shadé -- about the girl who loved to sing, the girl who loved to eat Doritos, the girl with the infectious laugh, sweet voice, and easy smile.
They held candles and choked back sobs, wiped tears and shared memories. Friend after friend held spoke of her laughter, and good spirit, and beautiful smile, and the happiness she brought with her where ever she went
They shared the joyous impact that Shadé had on their lives. Through sorrow and pain, Shadé’s friends brought the spirit of the 24-year-old back to the high school that she graduated from just six years earlier. In the times since leaving Seneca Valley, Shadé went on to earn a degree in public health from the University of Maryland in 2013, and had just started working for Maxim Healthcare Services in Columbia, Md.
Through sniffles and tears, they told stories of friendship, stories of being young and full of life, while everyone in the parking lot was trying cope with tragic loss. Stories of nights at the Green Turtle, of high school poms mishaps -- of the times when Shadé could brighten their days with a smile or a giggle, or a song.
“She would sing all the time,” said Mollie Gillespie. “She would march to her own drum. She was such a happy person. We have to remember the good times. She was a good friend and you all were great friends to her.”
“It is such an unspeakable tragedy,” said Alisa Santucci, the mother of Shadé’s friend Jenna. “To see so many people here tonight supporting each other and connecting with each other. That is really what this is about in terms of moving forward and staying together, staying connected, and loving Shadé. What a testament to her, to see all these people here tonight who cared so much about her.”
There were prayers and a moment of silence as the dark parking lot became bathed in the warm glow of candlelight. Those gathered remember Shadé as a middle school friend while she attended Kingsview Middle School. Those who had known her longest counted themselves among the lucky, while newer friends regretted not being allowed the opportunity to get to know Shadé better.
“Shadé was a beautiful spirit and a lot of tears are going to be shed on her behalf and I find that to be ironic, because everybody remembers her for her smile and her laughter. It was infectious, make no mistake about it,” said John Robertson, who remembers Shadé from when he was a staff member at Seneca Valley High School. He is currently an assistant principal at Northwest. “One thing about Seneca Valley is that we are family and we are known for being tight and being close. I do believe there is spiritual form into which we return to God and we look down upon those that we love, and as the sun is setting on us tonight, somewhere in the world it is coming up, and Shadé is also coming up on the other side. Let her love continue to move us forward and comfort us.”
The friends also introduced Matthew Kamachaiti and Ricky Ashley who had been shopping on at the Home Depot across the parking lot from where Shadé was gunned down. Kamachaiti and Ashley ran across the parking lot and attempted to revive Shadé by doing CPR, but the damage was too great.
“We just did what anybody would do for another person,” said Kamachaiti.
Montgomery County Police say that on Monday, June 1 Mariam Folashade Adebayo, 24, of Germantown was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend Donald Wayne Bricker Jr., of Hagerstown. Bricker was arrested later that night after leading police on a chase through rural Montgomery County, which ended with Bricker crashing his pickup truck. He remains in custody in the hospital for injuries he suffered when the he crashed his vehicle at the end of the pursuit.
Friends of Shadé have set up a GoFundMe.com site to raise money in her memory.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.