RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A mural now stands outside the Hedingham community, honoring the victims of last week’s mass shooting.
The man behind the mural, Roberto Marquez, said he traveled across the country to lift the community’s spirits.
It’s not his first time heading into communities facing the aftermath of tragedies.
For years, Marquez has traveled the country painting murals for those who lost their lives in disasters.
“In tragedies like this, I like to take the opportunity to go in and help,” Marquez said. “People really need help.”
On his most recent travels, Marquez drove from his home in Dallas, Texas to honor the victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida. As he finished up his work in Fort Myers, he decided to drive up to Raleigh’s Hedingham community.
“I’m trying to lift their spirits,” he said. “I noticed the community is really hurt.”
The mural now stands just a short walk away from the memorial outside of Hedingham.
The mural showcases bright colors, representing life.
It also features five coffins — each representing one of the victims. Those coffins are filled with some of their favorite things like flowers, musical instruments and baked goods.
“It really is a beautiful tribute,” said Gina Base, a resident of Hedingham who came to see the mural with some of her neighbors. “It really is.”
Neighbors said they come to see the new mural to pay their respects to those lost in the mass shooting.
“I drive by here every day,” said Leslie Covington, who lives in Hedingham. “It’s like I have to. It’s like I have to drive by it to feel a sense of peace.”
As he painted the mural, Marquez said he invited neighbors to contribute.
“They wrote their names, they drew flowers, hearts, things like that,” he said. “But generally that’s the idea, you know, to bring hope.”
Hope, which the community is searching for.
Covington, a former mental health therapist, says she can feel the heaviness when she drives into the community, and the tributes help fuel that hope the community needs.
“You can feel it,” she said. “And I think this, sort of, is our way of letting it all out. Letting it all out. Because you have to let it all out.”
A message is written on the left side of the mural — “KEEP HOPE ALIVE.”
Neighbors said that’s what they’re all working to do.