Under a dimming sky, Lafayette residents gathered downtown Saturday to honor the two women killed when a gunman opened fire without warning in a movie theater this week.
"Overcoming adversity is in our blood. It’s handed down from generation to generation and taught along with love, compassion, and bonding together," Lauren Awverset, of Lafayette, told NBC News at a community vigil at Parc Sans Souci.
Hundreds turned out at the vigil for the two women killed in the rampage at the Grand Theatre, Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33. Smaller groups gathered at churches throughout the city Saturday.
"We can’t let evil win," Don O’Meadhra, also of Lafayette, said. "We as a community have to rise above that and move forward."
Two days after the shooting, residents were still trying to understand why the alleged gunman, John Houser, stood up and began shooting at a Thursday evening screening of "Trainwreck," in an attack that also left nine others wounded. Houser turned the gun on himself as police closed in.
"It feels like almost a betrayal," Lauren Boyd said. The 23-year-old was born and raised in Lafayette, a city that, to her, represents family, friendliness and acceptance. "We are all family here," she said.
Native Lafayette resident Nathan Justice has managed to find some good in the wake of the incident.
"It’s painful," Justice said. "But seeing how the community is coming together afterwards is giving me so much hope and making me so happy. Of course it’s a tragedy, but seeing everyone rally around is giving me such a strong happiness in this community."
Rachel Mouton said that when the Grand Theatre opens back up for business, she and her three children will be there.
"When the theater re-opens we are going to be first in line to get tickets to show that we are not scared," she said. "It’s important I show my children we aren’t scared, to show the country we aren’t scared, that he didn’t take anything from us. He gave us a resilience we didn’t have before."