TAFT, Okla. — FOX23 heard from the family of the woman killed in a mass shooting in the small town of Taft late Saturday night.
Eight people were injured and 39-year-old Sherika Bowler was killed when authorities said likely multiple shooters opened fire on a crowd at a Memorial Day weekend festival packed with 1,500 people.
“My daughter was a beautiful daughter, sister, mother,” said Sherika’s mother, Paulette Bowler.
“I feel like she helped mold me into the person I am today,” her younger sister, Whitney Bowler said.
Her older sister, Blanch Lang, spoke out as well.
“I still expect her to come through the door, like she was the life of the party,” Lang told FOX23.
But the family knows Sherika will never come home.
“I am very, very, very angry,” Paulette said.
She recalled running down the street as soon as she received the call early Saturday morning.
“I ran to my child to see what I could do,” Paulette said. “But there’s nothing that any of us could do at that point in time.”
Medics airlifted Sherika to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa. By then, her mother and sister arrived as well.
“When I first got there, I just prayed over her,” Lang said.
“Me seeing my baby like that was a hurting feeling,” Paulette recalled. “It was a hurting feeling.”
They watched Sherika take her final breaths.
“I talked to her, and I promised that I would take care of her child,” Paulette said.
Sherika is survived by her five-year-old daughter.
“She’ll get up in the morning, and I can see the sadness in her face,” Paulette told FOX23. “And then she’ll start crying … ‘I want my mommy, I love my mommy, where’s my mommy?’ She knows [Sherika] is with God.”
One man has turned himself into law enforcement for the shooting, but authorities suspect there were likely more gunmen involved.
“They don’t know what it’s like, whether they have children or not, they don’t know what it’s like to lose a child,” Paulette said.
“I’ve forgiven them, even thought I want justice,” Lang explained.
For the family, justice can only come if one ting happens.
“Their lives need to be changed just like everybody else’s life had to be changed,” Paulette said. “They need to be sentenced to whatever maximum sentence they can give them.”
Until that happens, the family is working to come to grips with Sherika’s death.
“I’m gonna miss the loving person that she was. The joking person that she was … fun, you know?” Paulette said. “I’m gonna miss the presence of her being with me.”
The family told FOX23 that raising Sherika’s daughter is now their top priority. They are working to set up a trust fund for her, so she can one day go to college and live the life Sherika was working hard to provide for her.
A GoFundMe has been set up for Sherika’s daughter’s education fund. Anyone interested in donating can visit their website.
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