They huddled around roses, snapdragons, carnations and lilies, and they prayed.
They prayed for Crystal Brame. They prayed for David Brame.
And, for the sake of the Brames' children, Haley and David Jr., they asked God to bury the memory of what David did to Crystal, and then to himself.
"Erase from their little memories the things they have seen and the things they have experienced," said Mark Toone, senior pastor at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor.
Toone, with representatives of other churches, stood Friday at the center of a ring of about 100 people who gathered to bring peace to the site of the shootings at the Harbor Plaza shopping center in Gig Harbor.
Few people spoke individually. Someone whispered. A baby cried. Someone fought back tears. Two women raised their arms, palms turned to face the sky and prayed. Everyone bowed their heads.
Toone, dressed in a dark blue robe, closed his eyes, lifted his face to the sun and spoke again of Haley, 8, and David Jr., 5.
"God," he said, "heal them completely and heal them perfectly."
Associated Ministries of Tacoma-Pierce County held the Moment of Blessing to reclaim the site of the shootings and to show support for the victims' family and friends, and the community.
The Rev. David Alger, executive director of Associated Ministries, said the blessings are meant to fill places hollowed by death with love, peace, hope, forgiveness, understanding and comfort.
"These services are designed for you," he said. "We do this all over Pierce County."
Representatives from several churches led prayers and read from Scripture. The people who had formed a ring around the pastors repeated the prayers in unison: "That which was taken from us by violence and death, we reclaim as a place of life, community and hope. We pledge to work towards a world free from violence and full of love and hope. We commit ourselves to building community that is humane, compassionate and just."
One pastor sprinkled water on the site of the shootings and on people. Droplets of water landed softly on foreheads and faces.
When the blessing ended, the ring of people broke into small groups. Some people talked about domestic violence and the need for neighbors, family, friends, city leaders, even strangers, to speak out, to help, to tell when they suspect or believe someone is the victim of domestic abuse.
The media, vans parked, cameras at the ready, interviewed people. Other people lingered near their cars, staring at the site of the shootings and watching as shoppers entered Hollywood Video and Subway and Ace Hardware.
Tacoma resident Colin Overland, who works in Gig Harbor, frequently shops at Harbor Plaza. He said Friday's ceremony was important to begin healing people, including David Brame.
"He needs the prayers, too," he said. "Not that he's a good guy, but he needs to come face to face with God."
After nearly everyone had left, Sarah Bennett, who lives near a close friend of Crystal Brame's family, arrived with her children, Henry Bauer, 12, and his sister, Kate Bauer, 10.
Henry and Kate played with the Brame children this week, Sarah told an Associated Press reporter. They played basketball, Legos and Barbies, and Henry read David Jr. a story, she said.
"They're doing really well. They're just beautiful, sensitive children," Bennett said. "Their mother is a wonderful mother - you can just tell by the way the children carry themselves, they are really loved."
Aaron Corvin: 253-552-7058