Hundreds of people gathered Sunday night at Winston-Salem State University to mourn the loss of one of their own.

Nearby, the campus clock tower rang out as a choir began to sing, the bells not quite synching up with the group's spiritual melody.

It was six o'clock. Just seventeen hours earlier, 19-year-old student Anthony White, Jr., had been alive.

But around 1:20 a.m. Sunday, White was gunned down, and another student was injured, turning the final hours of homecoming weekend into a rainy, mournful event.

Winston-Salem State Chancellor Elwood Robinson says the loss has been a shock for the campus. But at the vigil, he saw his students – his Rams – unite around a fallen friend.

“All of us are in pain and all of us are suffering as a result," Robinson said. "And families come together during those times, and that's what this has been.”

Amber Raiford, 20, is a junior at WSSU. She organized the vigil – inviting students and staff, ministers, the choir – because she wanted to be sure this moment in the school's history would unite the community.

“We definitely lost a Ram. But we gave so much love and so much respect for each other, just trying to support each other during this hard time," Raiford said. "It's really hard for us as a community and as a college.”

The investigations will continue, of course. Safety policies will surely be reviewed. And if this vigil is any indication, the community will heal.

But for now, for the rain-soaked Rams gathered at the clock tower Sunday, the healing starts with a song and a prayer.

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