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Calumet neighborhood hosts candlelight vigil for slain store owner

Residents of the Calumet Park Neighborhood Association attempted to light up the darkness Friday evening with a candlelight vigil in memory of a business owner who was killed by a stray bullet on Feb. 14.

Under a pavilion at Calumet Park, residents of the neighborhood lit candles and shared stories about Patricia Underwood, 78, affectionately known as Ms. Pat throughout the community.

Underwood was fatally struck by a stray bullet inside of her business, Pat’s Corner Store, at about 10 p.m. on Feb. 14 after a shooting incident took place outside of the store. The store is located at the intersection of Ware and Union Streets.

Andreco Darnell Parham was arrested that same night in the 300 block of Ware Street and has been charged with murder. He has not been indicted on those charges as of Friday.

On Friday, residents of the neighborhood held white candles and yellow balloons while remembering the impact Underwood had on the community.

“We all know her one way or another,” Patricia Terry said. “She touched each and every one of our lives, and for everybody to come out like this, that’s amazing.”

Dr. Robert Tucker, co-chairman of the Calumet Park Neighborhood Association, said he recently learned he and Underwood were classmates at the former East Depot High School. He discovered this while talking to Underwood about revitalizing her store as part of a community project at no cost to her.

“I hope we will still be able to do that,” he said. “Because that store is the only store we have in our neighborhood, and it’s been here forever.”

Pat’s Corner Store has been at operating in the Calumet neighborhood for about 40 years, Tucker said, and her impact on the community will last forever.

“I think it’s just going to continue to grow,” he said. “A legacy to her will be that we come together, work together and stop a lot of this foolishness that we have going on.”

Underwood’s nephew, Jonathan Mooty, made the trip to LaGrange this past Saturday from Houston, Texas, after he received the news. He first said he wanted to thank the community for stepping forward to help law enforcement make an arrest.

“Seeing something and saying something — here’s a perfect example of that,” Mooty said.

He shared a story about how he thought his aunt had magic powers when he was younger. He said when visiting her house, she would tell him to close his eyes and count to 10, and when they opened them, she would have cookies in her hand.

“We never knew as a family how much magic she had in this community,” Mooty said. “So, for that, I just want to say thank you to everybody.”

After the vigil, the group walked up the hill to Pat’s Corner Store, which is decorated with flowers and candles from the community. The front of the store was lit up Friday with an arrangement spelling out “Ms. Pat.”

As a final act on the evening, the group released about 100 balloons in the air.

Underwood’s funeral will be at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at St. Paul Baptist in LaGrange.

Before leaving, neighborhood association member Lee Jones informed the group that the association is working in conjunction with the Calumet Center for Healing and Attachment to provide trauma and grief counseling at no cost. She said all somebody has to do is call the center and make an appointment.

“The counselors that are going to help you are from Calumet Park,” she said. “They’ve been raised here, gone to school and they want to help.”