Lexington - Thousands of people joined
Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay at a candlelight vigil on Monday night on a Kentucky
high school track honouring Gay's 15-year-old daughter, who was fatally shot
over the weekend.
Gay stood on the track at
Lexington's Lafayette High School where he and daughter Trinity excelled and he
thanked people for showing support after the girl's death on Sunday after
gunfire erupted outside a restaurant in that city. The teen's mother, Shoshana
Boyd, also was present amid the crowd honouring her memory.
"I want you guys to
love each other, have peace and protect each other," said Gay, who added
that he was numb from crying over her death. "That's what Trinity would
have wanted. ... Life is not a joke."
Many in the crowd wore pink
and purple - Gay's favourite colours - with some holding balloons of those same
hues that were later released into the air. Several pairs of track spikes hung
from a fence along with a baton that said In Memory of Trinity.
Three men charged in
connection with the shooting pleaded not guilty on Monday and face an October 25
court date. The three appeared via video before Fayette County, Kentucky,
District Court Judge T. Bruce Bell.
Bell set bail at $5 000
each for Chazerae Taylor, 38, and his son, D'Markeo Taylor, 19, on wanton
Dvonta Middlebrooks, 21, is charged with wanton
endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. His bail was set
at $12 500.
Bell will assign attorneys
for two of them. The younger Taylor already has a lawyer.
Lexington police say
Middlebrooks was in the parking lot of the Cook Out restaurant early on Sunday and
fired multiple shots in the incident in which Trinity Gay was shot. Court
records said the Taylors acknowledged firing shots.
Police spokesperson Brenna
Angel said police don't believe Trinity Gay was in either of the two vehicles
Gay told The Associated
Press on Monday evening that in talking with police, he believed his daughter
was an innocent bystander. But he said authorities didn't reveal details of
Tyson Gay said he and his
daughter were very close, according to Lexington TV station WLEX, which spoke
to him on Sunday.
"It's so crazy. I have
no idea what happened," Gay told the station.
Grief counsellors also went
to the Lexington high school on Monday for students and staff, Fayette County
Public Schools spokesperson Lisa Deffendall said.
Years ago, Gay had attended
the same school as his daughter. Trinity Gay was a standout sprinter, placing in
the top five in several events at the state championships in May. Her father
still holds the state record in the 100 set in 2001.
Lafayette principal Bryne
Jacobs, teacher Rhonda Mullins and girls track coach Crystal Washington all
described Trinity Gay as friendly and outgoing. She dreamed of becoming a
"She was full of
energy and life," said Mullins, who had Gay in family and consumer science
classes along with the Future Educators of America club. "She was a kid
that everybody wanted to teach."
Jacobs said Trinity Gay's
mother, who also attended Lafayette, had thanked him for support from the
school and community, and noted that Trinity's life was something to celebrate.
"Our hearts are
burdened that she is not in our building anymore," Jacobs said.
The emotions flowed before,
during and after a candlelight vigil on the track where Trinity Gay excelled.
Tyson Gay hugged Shoshana several around him.
Many others hugged and
cried, but Jerome Brown, 16, held his feelings for his former teammate in check.
"I don't want to cry, but it hurts a lot," said Brown, who ran with
Trinity Gay since she was nine. "I wanted to come here for her mom. With
Trinity, when she was on the track, it was home."
Tyson Gay competed in the last three Summer Olympics. He was part of a team that won a silver medal in the 4x100-metre relay at the 2012 London Games, though that medal was ultimately stripped after Gay tested positive for steroids in 2013.
Last summer's Games in Rio featured another stinging disappointment for Gay, 33, who has battled injuries.
He was a member of the American men's 4x100-metre relay team that finished third in the final before being disqualified for an illegal baton exchange between Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin. The team's appeal was denied, giving Canada the bronze medal.