Crowd at AAMU holds “Prayer For Our Own” as campus hurts for three people

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Najee Shakeel (L), Kaylan Perry (M), and William "Butch" Shumake (R)

Najee Shakeel (L), Kaylan Perry (M), and William “Butch” Schumake (R)

NORMAL, Ala. (WHNT)-- The AAMU family has wrapped its arms around three families, hurting from incidents around Alabama.

It's been a tough few days for the bulldogs, who have dealt with blow after blow, said JaTavia Bradley. She is a member of the Student Government Association and Resident Assistant.

"It's hard," she said. "You feel like you're starting to heal and then something else happens."

A candlelight vigil Wednesday was partially in memory of Lieutenant William Schumake, a beloved member of the university's Public Safety team who died of cancer. Former coworkers remembered him as a friend, mentor, and dedicated law enforcement officer who cared for the students he served. Bradley remembers his calm demeanor as he handled incidents and mingled with students.

"I can stand here all night and talk about Lt. Schumake," said one of his fellow officers. "You are missed. We love you."

The vigil was also in loving memory of Kaylan Perry, a student killed in Birmingham over the weekend.

"I remember Mr. Perry as a member of the band," said Joi Miller, Miss Alabama A&M University. The band played at the service in his honor.

Students are also thinking of Najee Shakeel, a student listed in critical condition Monday evening after being hit by a car on campus Monday.

"Anytime you walk into a room and you see Najee, he's going to hug you and smile," said Bradley. Members of Eta Kappa Tau, Shakeel's engineering fraternity, also shared memories and encouragement in his honor.

Prayers and kind words for all three, along with music by the University Choir and a member of Man Up, Inc., set the tone for a somber but uplifting service. Because with the tears, came comfort and knowledge they are not alone. The big group of bulldogs is hoping to heal three hurting families as one big family. Strong together, they will carry the fire from those three hearts proudly.