21st Crime Victims' Memorial Quilt unveiled

FRESNO, Calif.

Many of these families will probably never understand why their loved one was killed. Still, they bravely shared their stories of loss, struggle and moving on.

Each picture and each name stitched on the quilt represents a victim of deadly violence in Fresno County. "I know we're not the only family that's going through such tragedy and not understanding why something so senseless happened to our family," Priscilla Gamez said. She attended the ceremony holding her six-week-old daughter, Toni. The newborn was named after Tony Torres, Sr. and Tony Torres, Jr.

The father and son were killed last June. They were shot to death in their SUV at a shopping center in northeast Fresno, according to police.

Now, their pictures and memories are attached to the 21st edition of the Crime Victims' Memorial Quilt.

"This is our way of still keeping their memory alive," Gamez said.

For the dozens of family members attending the ceremony to honor the 12 new victims on the quilt there was a combination of emotions.

"It's very touching. It's inspirational to move forward," Jocelyn Dixon said. "It's hard because it brings back memories of what we lost, but at the same time it shows the appreciation everyone has for the people we lost."

Dixon is still adjusting to life after losing her friend, Cynthia Watkins. The mother of three was shot to death inside her southeast Fresno apartment on September 13th; witnesses say it happened in front of her children.

The quilt is helping Dixon cope. "It helps remind us that it's okay to be sad," she said. "But at the same time it's okay to move forward because we haven't forgotten about them."

The ceremony was also a chance to connect. Watkins' family met, for the first time, the family of Jerome DeTroy Dixon, who police say was killed by the same man that gunned down Watkins.

"You're never promised tomorrow," Gamez said. "So make sure that it's expressed and that they know they're very loved."

The quilt now has 470 names on it. This memorial is organized by the Crime Victim Assistance Center, through the Fresno County Probation Department.

Many of those employees are also the same people who help the victims' families through the long criminal investigations and difficult court proceedings.

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