NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WYTV) – One week after his murder, the New Castle community honored the life of 8-year-old Mark Edward Mason, Jr.
Police say 43-year-old Keith Burley stabbed Mason to death after a domestic dispute with the little boy’s mother.
Monday night, family, friends and loved ones gathered at a candlelight vigil in memory of the little boy.
In his eight young years, little Markie — as his family calls him — touched so many lives.
He dreamed of being a member of the SWAT team and loved running and fishing with his dad and little brother.
It’s those little things his family says they’ll miss the most.
While he was laid to rest privately over the weekend, his family wanted the community to be able to honor their little boy, share memories and say goodbye in a way Markie would have loved.
Hundred of people attended the vigil, holding red balloons and remembering Markie’s life with a sea of candles.
“I know that Markie is looking down on us and looking at our family and looking at the community and looking at everybody that is here today saying we’re all going to be alright. It’s going to be alright,” said Markie’s uncle, Abdou Saada.
Overcome with emotion, Saada addressed the crowd on behalf of his family, remembering his nephew and the light he brought into their lives, saying Markie and his 7-year-old brother, Matthew, are undoubtedly his heroes.
“I want to be half the man Markie and Matthew showed us to be that day,” he said.
He also prides Markie’s father, Mark Mason, Sr., and his sister, Maram.
“Those two have showed nothing but love and they set all the emotions aside, and with forgiveness and with God, everything will be alright,” Saada said.
Pastor John Owens with Victory Family Church led the crowd in prayer as they released the balloons into the heavens, each with a special message for Markie.
“We all want to join Markie someday, so we’re going to pray right now and we’re going to believe that one day we’re going to see Markie again,” Owens said.
As the sun began to set, candles illuminated the shadowed yard outside of Elham’s Restaurant, many saying a silent prayer before the vigil came to an end.
“It’s just a terrible tragedy for anybody to have to go through and I think our community pulled together today to show just how much support we can give Maram and the Saada family and the Mason family all together,” said Barb Redman, of New Castle.
“We’re going to be together, we’re going to get through this together and it’s going to be fine. We’re going to do it all in the name of God… Amen,” Saada said.
Following Monday night’s vigil, the family — although understandably overcome with emotion — made it a point to thank everyone individually for coming out in Markie’s memory.
They plan on holding more remembrance ceremonies in his honor throughout the year.