UPDATE: Young man who was killed remembered fondly at vigil; fund set up

SEQUIM — Close to 300 family members and friends jammed into the James Center bandshell near Carrie Blake Park on Thursday night in a tearful, emotional candlelight vigil for David James Randle, the 19-year-old union apprentice carpenter who was gunned down at his Woodcock Road home Tuesday.

“This is not a funeral,” Randle’s mother, Shellie Gillis, told those in the crowd holding candles, wiping tears away. “This is done by the kids that loved David.”

She said a funeral was planned for Randle on March 24.

Overwhelmed by the scene, she thanked those who participated and was embraced by many family members and close friends who gathered around a candlelighted monument with picture of Randle’s smiling face beaming above the flickering light.

“He was like a brother to me,” said best friend Tyler Townsend, who put out a notice of the vigil on the social media website Facebook the day before. In about eight hours, he received nearly 200 Facebook notifications from those committing to attend the event.

Holding his candle up high, Townsend asked for a moment of silence in Randel’s memory.

“Remember the good times, we’ll never forget,” he said and many in the crowd openly weeped.

As Gillis roamed around to embrace many of those who attended, some sang “Amazing Grace.”

“He was just a good kid. In this small town just look at all the people here,” he said, gazing at the crowd that spilled out of the band shell and into the park’s grassy gallery.

His suspected assailant, John Loring, fled to Port Angeles, where he holed up Wednesday in an apartment and later shot himself to death as SWAT police closed in with tear gas.

Loring also was suspected of murder in the death of Ray Varney, 68, whose body was found Wednesday in the Diamond Point area 10 miles east of where Randle was killed.

Earlier report:

CARLSBORG — Remembering their friend David J. Randle as a young man with a big smile and an even bigger heart, the crew at Ohana Coffee Co. are donating next Tuesday’s tips to help Randle’s family with funeral expenses.

Randle, 19 — described by a former teacher as having a bright future as a union carpenter ahead of him — was shot to death Tuesday morning at his Woodcock Road home.

His suspected assailant, John Loring, fled to Port Angeles, where he holed up Wednesday in an apartment and later shot himself to death as SWAT police closed in with tear gas.

Loring also was suspected of murder in the death of Ray Varney, 68, whose body was found Wednesday in the Diamond Point Area 10 miles east of where Randle was killed.

Ohana Coffee manager Sarah Duce and her barista, Lindsey Merrell, a former Sequim High School classmate of Randle, are helping roofer Steve Byers, who said Randle was like a son to him, distribute mason jars to Sequim and Port Angeles businesses to collect donations for the family.

Randle was a frequent customer at Ohana, Duce said, and was always smiling and upbeat.

“At this time, the family should not have to worry about it,” Duce said of the funeral expenses.

“It was a very tragic event.

Byers has opened an account for the family at Wells Fargo bank, 501 W. Washington St., where donations can be made to the David Randle account, No. 1381735263.

Randle’s aunt, Suzanne Rego, also has set up an account. The account at First Federal is the David Randle, aka David LaCroix, Memorial Fund, she said.

“He was amazing,” said Rego, who is sister to Randle’s mother, Shellie Gillis.

“He was a sweet boy,” she said.

“Even at 19, even if he had friends with him, if he saw me, he would run up and give me a hug and tell me that he loved me,” she said.

Rego said his mother and Randle’s sister, Victoria LaCroix, were living with Randle at the house on Woodcock Road.

Randle had changed his last name from LeCroix after he learned Randle was his biological father’s name, a man he hardly knew, said both Rego and Byers.

Byers said he tried to fill the void.

“I used to say I loved him all the time,” Byers said.

“I loved him with all my heart.”

Both Byers’ sons, Mitchell and James Anthony, were close buddies with Randle, he said.

Byers remembered cutting wood with the hard-working Randle.

“I would say, ‘Are you having fun yet?’ And he would say, ‘Oh, yeah,’ with this big smile,” Byers said, adding that Randle always treated him with respect and asked for his advice, even about girls.

Byers said he warned Randle about Loring, whom he described as the former controlling boyfriend of Randle’s mother.

“We knew it was going to happen,” Byers said. “We knew he was going to show up.

“That’s why I warned him about that monster,” he said of Loring.

“The only thing that’s keeping me going through this is that David loved his mother,” Byers said, adding that he has shed a lot of tears this week.

Merrell remembered Randle as carefree and mature for his age. He was always protective of his friends, she said.

“He was level-headed and always a good kid,” she said Thursday.

One of the donation jars will be at Ohana, 41 Gilbert Road.

Others will be placed at Jiffy Lube, 651 E. Washington St. in Sequim; Reef Tanning, 10159 Old Olympic Highway, Sequim; Swain’s General Store, 602 E. First St., Port Angeles; and Spotlight Video and Tan, 715 E. First St., Port Angeles.

Riley Stites, who teaches math at Sequim High School and building through the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center’s Sequim Building Trades program, also fondly remembered his student Randle as respectful to everyone and well on his way to becoming a carpenter earning a living wage.

“He was recently accepted into the laborers union and spent some time remodeling and reconditioning at Forks High School with Primo” Construction of Carlsborg, Stites said of Randle’s apprenticeship.

Apprenticing at 19 is unusual, Stites said, with the average age of an apprentice being 27.

“He told me he was back in school because he understood the value of education,” Stites said.

“It looked like a bright future for him.

“He already had a GED [General Educational Development certificate],” Stites said.

“He was here for the knowledge, which made him a perfect student.

“He had straight As always through my program. He was a leader, and everybody loved him.”

Stites said Randle always took the younger students under his wing.

“He would take the kids that were kind of shy and not popular and make them feel comfortable,” Stites said.

________

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Managing Editor/News Leah Leach contributed to this report.

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