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Banquet honors families of victims in Memorial Day weekend shootings

The families of the eight people who were fatally shot in Lincoln County in May gathered at a banquet Thursday to honor their loved ones, as well as their invited guests and entertainers.

“We wanted to do this to bring the families together,” said Pat Butler, a law enforcement chaplain with the McComb Police Department and the Pike County Sheriff’s Office.

Called an “In Your Honor” banquet, the event held at Easthaven Baptist Church featured Dove award-nominated singer Vicki Yoh’e and The Expressions of Praise Dance Ministry.

”Even though we know they are grieving, we’re hoping that this will maybe boost their spirits,” Butler said. “After this is over we hope the families will go back uplifted and even though this was a terrible tragedy something good can come out of all of this.”

Those killed Memorial Day weekend, allegedly by Willie Corey Godbolt, were Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy William Durr, Barbara Mitchell, her daughter, Toccara May and Mitchell’s sister Brenda May, all of Bogue Chitto; Austin Edwards, his cousin, Jordan Blackwell, of Brookhaven; and Ferral and Shelia Burage, of Brookhaven. Mitchell was Godbolt’s mother-in-law.

The families of all eight victims attended the praise event, including Xavier Lilly. Lilly was allegedly kidnapped by Godbolt at the address where Edwards and Blackwell were killed.

He drove the suspect around for four hours before Godbolt had him drop him off near the Burages home.

Rev. Shon Blackwell and his family were there to celebrate their son, who would have been a senior this year at Brookhaven High School. Blackwell and his wife Tiffany have tried to remain positive throughout the process.

“This is a chance for all of us to be together tonight,” Blackwell said. “We’re thankful for everything that everyone is doing for us. Throughout this tragedy, everybody has been separate in different ways. Tonight we get to be together as one big family.”

Godbolt has been charged with one count of capital murder and seven counts of first degree murder. The capital murder charge is for killing a law enforcement officer.