NORFOLK, Va. – The grief from the mass shooting has reverberated throughout the entire Young Terrace community. The heartache brought people together Friday as they remembered the three women who lost their lives.
Sarah Costine's family was touched by the memorial that continues to grow on Whitaker Lane. She was one of the five shooting victims who was killed along with two other women Wednesday evening.
At the gathering, Carlene Hartline brought one last gift for her sister Sarah Costine, 44, who was known to many by her Muslim name Sa’idah.
“I can’t even believe I’m here right now to do this for my sister,” Hartline said holding back tears.
Hartline placed a framed picture of her sister at the memorial site along with a stuffed animal of a dolphin. She said dolphins reminded her of their hometown in Florida.
“I remember as a child, her Christmas gifts from me would always be a dolphin,” said Hartline. “I guess this is my last dolphin to her.”
Hartline, who lives in Chicago, visited the site for the first time Friday since the horrific shooting in Young Terrace two days ago.
Hartline said her sister was just getting home from work when she heard gunfire and ran outside to try and help her neighbors who’d just been shot.
Related: Neighbors: Mother of a Norfolk mass shooting victim killed after coming to help injured daughter
“It happened so fast,” she said.
As she was trying to help, Ziontay Palmer, 19, turned the gun on her, killing Costine. Police say Palmer also murdered Nicole Lovewine, 45; and her partner Detra Brown, 42; and injured two other women.
“That’s my sister,” Hartline said. “She’d give you the clothes off her back even if she didn’t have much.”
Three of Costine’s kids were playing on the trampoline and saw their mother murdered before their eyes. Her youngest child is just six years old.
The courtyard is now a vivid reminder of the lives left in the wake.
“The grief is indescribable, unbearable,” said Hartline as she wiped away tears. “My sister and I just lost our mom three years ago to pancreatic cancer and I thought that grief would kill us.”
Longtime friend and co-worker Cordell Hargraves said he just saw Costine the day before the shooting. He said he’s still in disbelief over her death.
“She was a kind person, a sweetheart and she’d do anything for anybody,” he said. “She didn’t deserve that. There was too much left behind for her life to be gone like that. There’s children out here that got to live without their mother.”
The 44-year-old was a single mother trying to make the best out of life. Hartline said she overcame a lot of struggles to provide for her children.
Several months ago, Hartline said her sister lost a home to a fire, then another one to a flood all while battling cancer. The move to the Young Terrace community a few months ago was supposed to be a fresh start for her and her family.
“She had a hard life and was always so joyful no matter what life threw at her,” Hartline said. “To go out like this is just horrific and I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Costine’s family and friends leaned on one another as they remember the mother they say had a big heart.
“She was one of the most beautiful people you could have ever met,” said Costine’s daughter-in-law Sara Sepulveda. “She always just laughed and made everybody laugh. She was the life of the party.”
The growing memorial full of balloons and messages was a chance to forget the hurt for a brief moment as family members of the three women keep their memories alive while they wait for justice.
“Where do you go from this kind of violence?” Hartline said. “When is this going to end? When does it end?”
Hartline said her sister never felt safe in the neighborhood and was supposed to move next month. Hartline would like to see stricter gun laws to keep guns from getting into the wrong hands.
Costine leaves behind six children and two grandchildren.
Costine’s family has set up a GoFundMe to help her children.
The family never fully recovered after losing most of their belongings in the fire and flood. Donations will help buy clothing, furniture, and necessities for the kids. Money raised will also go toward Costine’s funeral costs. To donate, click here.
Tina McPherson, who lost her sister Nicole Lovewine in Wednesday’s shooting, organized Friday’s gathering. Lovewine’s father and son were also there, including Lovewine’s 19-year-old daughter, who Palmer shot in the shoulder.
"For this tragedy to happen, it hit us hard. It tore our family up," McPherson said.
For McPherson’s family, justice can’t come soon enough.
“It's a tragedy we'll never get over,” she said. “He took an angel from us. She didn't deserve to die in a horrifying way. We just want justice served.”
Related: Neighbors, community activists plead for end to gun violence after Norfolk shooting leaves 3 women dead
The Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said Palmer was arraigned Thursday morning on three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and five counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
Palmer's preliminary hearing is set for January 11, 2022.
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