Celebration of life held for Saugus shooting victim

Residents stand around the memorial set up at the Central Park flag pole at the Saugus Strong Vigil Sunday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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Approximately 700 friends and family gathered Sunday to celebrate the life of Dominic Michael Blackwell, the 14-year-old Saugus High student who was shot and killed Nov. 14.

Gene Hall, Blackwell’s grandfather, began by defining tragedy as an event causing great suffering, destruction and distress.

“Nov. 14 was a very tragic day here in the Santa Clarita area that will permanently change the landscape for three families and significantly alter the landscape for three others,” Hall said. “Sadly, we may never know the real reason why this tragedy happened. And trying to make sense of the nonsensical, trying to understand the un-understandable, only serves to plunge us down a rabbit hole of anguish and pain that is difficult to get out of.”

So instead, Hall went on to share who Blackwell was, describing him as “full of life and love.”

“He lived 14 years, inspiring family and friends with his overwhelming kindness, infectious laughter and genuine excitement for life,” Hall said. “He gave the best of himself to everyone he knew.”

Since Blackwell’s death, Hall remarked that he has heard story after story filled with heartfelt memories of his grandson, which highlighted some of the qualities Blackwell’s parents, Frank and Nancy, tried to instill in him, such as compassion, generosity, and respect for others.

Two crosses, set up at the Central Park flagpole during the Saugus Strong Vigil Sunday night, honor the memory of two students killed Thursday, Nov. 14, at Saugus High School . Cory Rubin/The Signal

His family and friends, as well as the various groups and teams he belonged to, all helped him to “become the well-rounded young man that he had become,” Hall added.

“In the weeks and months to come, there will be many firsts,” Hall said. “The first family trip without Dominic, the first family photo without Dominic, the first family celebration. Sept. 11 (Blackwell’s birthday) and Nov. 14 will be especially painful for the family each year they roll around, but even through all this grief, we can do much to support and comfort them.”

Erik Gonzalez then led a prayer in Blackwell’s honor, striving to remember the best parts of him.

“We can remember all the wonderful things, the memories, all of the laughter,” he said, adding, “every single, beautiful thing that he had continues to make us remember him, move forward and know that that is something that cannot be taken away.”

To conclude, Hall posed the question of what Blackwell would’ve done with his life and what kind of man he would’ve become.

“We don’t know,” answered Hall. “He had a lot of decisions to make, which he hadn’t made yet, but his parents provided him with many opportunities, different experiences, so that he could see for himself and decide for himself what type of person that he wanted to be.”

“He was the best in all of us, and we will carry him with us always,” Hall added. “We honor Dominic’s legacy by following his example, by pushing through the interference with dignity.”

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