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Vigil remembers woman killed in weekend melee

By Rosa Duarte, Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 07 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 07 2012 10:05:18 PM CST

Vigil remembers woman killed in weekend melee

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The Sunday shooting in south Bethlehem which ended in the death of Yolanda Morales, 23, brought out community members Friday night to mourn the loss of Morales and to address the bigger issue of gun violence.

"The community needs to be together, it likes to play together but it also has to cry together and heal together and pray together,” said vigil organizer and community leader Guillermo Lopez.

Despite the rain and the cold, dozens of people showed up where the shooting occurred near the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society, including local politicians and law enforcement.

"This tragedy touched all of us whether you live in this community, work in this community or you police this community, this deeply affected every one of us," said Bethlehem City Police Chief Jason Schiffer.

Evelyn Rivera, president of the Puerto Rican Beneficial club, where the fight that led to the shooting began, was also present and shared the pain of losing a child.

"I lost my son," she cried. "He was 20-years-old so I know, I know. I hope that everyone gets together and helps us out, please please I'm begging you help us because this is what we must do.”

Meanwhile Lopez said that he's disappointed with how the young men chose to settle their differences, and adds it's not just a Latino issue.

"I think it's an all communities, I think men not knowing how to deal with their feeling and using violence as a way to deal with their feelings is the issue, it's not culture.... I don't believe it's a Latino issue, I don't believe it's a white issue, I believe it's a people issue and we as men have to own up to it,” said Lopez.

"Whether we're Hispanic or not, we're a community and I'm sure that out of this we will work together to help each other heal and to help prevent anything like this from ever happening again" said Lorna Velazquez, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Hispanic Center.

Funeral services for Morales will take place in Allentown on Saturday December 15th, at the Boyko funeral Home from 9am to 12pm.