Ceremony Remembers Crime Victims, Honors Law Enforcers

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- For some, it's a form of closure. For others, it's a celebration and a way to honor the men and women who bring justice to our communities. Thursday, the National Crime Victim's Rights Coalition held a candlelight ceremony.

Gene Fitts lost his mother in November 2006.

"My mom, to me, was the greatest person I'll ever know," Fitts said.

She was murdered in her Broadmoor home. So was her neighbor Anthony Caranna, just days later. This ceremony is a tribute to both.

"It's also another way to celebrate and give thanks to the people who have put their lives on the line out there to go out there and solve these vicious crimes that are perpetrated on families," Fitts said.

Keynote speaker, Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr said, "We don't necessarily know all our heroes, but they work for us every day, and they work for someone like us every day in work that is hard to comprehend."

Thursday's ceremony was a way for these victims to thank law enforcement for bringing closure to their lives.

"Because really they're the ones out there doing it for us. It makes me think a little big more about what they go through every day," Nunzio Caranna said.

"And that's what community is all about, to be able to work together and to have a great police department that went out there and did their due diligence on solving this crime. We're forever more thankful for that," Fitts said.

And the message behind it all is hope.

"Well, you know, you always remembered what happened, but if you can, deal with it in a healthy way. And that's what many of them have done, to see what they can do to help others," District Attorney Cono Caranna said.

"Next year, I'll probably be here to see who they're honoring and maybe feel for that family as well," Nunzio Caranna said.

"It's just very comforting to know that you don't have to go through this by yourself. And that there are people that are ready willing and able to help you," Fitts said.

The annual ceremony is part of National Crime Victim's Rights Week. It represents the victim assistance programs available in Harrison, Hancock, and Stone Counties.