Originally created 02/28/05

Vigil held for children attacked by father



COLUMBUS, Ga. - Community members sang songs of praise and gave prayers Saturday for the five children who were stabbed with a hunting knife by their father last week.

Clarence Moore, 24, attacked the children Wednesday at their house. He killed the youngest two before slashing his own throat.

Senior Pastor Joe Roberson, who has been counseling the family members, said Beverly Moore - the mother of the five children - is still recovering emotionally and that her surviving children are getting better. She was not injured in the attack.

Shelton Smith-Nunn, 5, remained in critical condition Saturday at The Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Marion Scott. Shawn Smith, 4, was upgraded Saturday from critical to unsatisfactory condition, while their sister, 6-year-old Shelby Smith, was in satisfactory condition, Scott said.

Roberson said during Saturday's vigil that God is using the tragedy to bring the community together.

"Columbus shined in a way I have never seen with people pulling together," he said. "This has been a wakeup call from God for us to take seriously. What are we going to do now for the children in this church and in this community?"

One-year-old Clarence "Little Clarence" Smith Moore died on the floor beside his bed, and 2-year-old Stephan Smith Moore was pronounced dead at The Medical Center, officials said. The children's attacker died in surgery.

Police identified "Little Clarence" as Moore's only biological child in the household.

Authorities said Beverly Moore called 911 after a fight with her husband Wednesday. When officers arrived at the house, they found Beverly Moore locked outside, with her husband and the children inside.

Roberson said Beverly Moore is struggling to understand why God would let this happen.

"She kept crying out, 'Where was God, how could he allow this to happen?'" he said. "Only God can answer that question. I said, 'Beverly, God was there. Even though two of your children are dead, you'll be a mother of three still.'"

The vigil included six members of the Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department who were the first to respond to the domestic violence call at the Moore residence. Saturday was their first day back on duty.

"We carried those kids," said Sgt. Chris Price, who still could vividly recall the images and the sounds of Beverly Moore's cries of desperation that night.

Price said some of the members are able to talk about what they saw and have been able to get through it. Others have had a more difficult time dealing with the memories.