WOODBRIDGE, Va. - A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night to remember Crystal Hamilton, a Woodbridge woman who was shot and killed allegedly by her husband in a domestic incident that also led to the shooting death of a Prince William County police officer.
Ronald Hamilton, a 32-year-old Army staff sergeant assigned to the Pentagon, has been charged with killing his wife as well as Prince William County Officer Ashley Guindon.
Police said the shooting happened Saturday evening at Hamilton's Woodbridge home after an argument between the couple. Officers responded to the home after Crystal Hamilton called 911. Officer Guindon was fatally shot after arriving at the home while two other officers, Jesse Hempen and David McKeown, were also wounded.
Police said Hamiltons’ 11-year-old son was at home when the shootings took place. He is currently in the care with family relatives and did not attend Tuesday night’s vigil.
A growing memorial grew throughout the day in front of the Hamiltons' home on Lashmere Court where the shootings occurred, as many left flowers and other items of remembrance for Crystal Hamilton. The home was also the location for the vigil as hundreds of people attended, including many who had never met the 29-year-old mother.
"Her smile was infectious,” said Crystal’s best friend, Shayna Colunga. “She could walk into a room and be like, ‘Hey boo’ or ‘Hey guys’ and the attention was on her.”
Crystal Hamilton's mother and sister drove up from the Carolina area and said they are still trying to put together what exactly happened. They said they want to hear the 911 call that Crystal made for help, but they don't have the courage to hear it just yet. They also don't have the courage to walk inside the couple's home.
“Apparently she died, we are presuming, right after the 911 call went out,” said Wendy Howard, the sister of Crystal Hamilton. “She was already dead after that. It's just something of disbelieve. It is not something that we would have ever imagined that would have happened, especially not like this. There was no indication to me personally that anything was ever this seriously wrong. For it to end like this and two lives to be lost so young, it's just like, ‘Wow.’”
For some at the vigil, even prayer was difficult as tears muted words in a sea of dim light.
"It's beyond anything that I could have ever imagined for my sister,” said Howard. “The last time I actually saw her was a year ago, so to come back in this manner, it is just heartbreaking.”
Hamilton’s death was heartbreaking for Prince William County police as well as the county who also joined her family in tragedy.
"Today, we had to say goodbye to someone else in this community who was very loved, but I want to share with you the 400,000 people of Prince William County love Crystal as well," said Martin Nohe, a Board of County Supervisor for Prince William County. "And I don't want you or anyone to think that the fact that there were multiple victims in this tragedy means that some tragedies are more important than others."
The harsh reality of domestic violence did not fall on deaf ears on this night.
"Someone here tonight that may be going through it and they may not want to speak on it today, but I'm sure they are going to leave here and think about what they experienced here and the words that they have heard,” said one person who spoke in front of the crowd at the vigil.
"For people around the country, around the world need to face this problem and realize that this has to come to an end,” said another.
"We didn't know much of what Crystal was going through,” said Howard. “But people are aware that there is help out there, and if they need it, definitely get it.”
The community remembered Crystal as a woman who loved working with wounded warriors and as a hero herself.
"She gave her life for her son,” said Hamilton’s sister. “She sacrificed herself.”