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NW Shooting Cut Short a Life Still Healing

That child, Kaprise, now 5, was among the family members at the vigil.

Pastor Stephen E. Young Sr., who led the remembrances, said he admired the way Ryland dedicated herself to God.

From left, Lashawn Dews, the victim's daughter Anitra White, with her child, Kaprise, and Michelle Monroe pray. (Photos Dudley M. Brooks -- The Washington Post)

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Ryland was an active member of Young's church, Holy Christian Missionary Baptist Church for All People in Northeast. She rarely missed a Sunday service, and she recently had enrolled in classes to better understand the Bible.

Her worn Bible, which she carried everywhere, was found in her van after the slaying, friends said.

Ryland also lent a hand during major events and memorial services at the church, including one last year for one of the District's most high-profile homicide victims -- 8-year-old Chelsea Cromartie. Chelsea was slain in May when a stray bullet pierced a window of her aunt's home.

The killing seemed to touch something in Ryland's heart, Young said.

"She was committed," said Young, who held Ryland's youngest child, a 2-year-old girl, during the vigil. "This just burns me down. She was trying to be a positive force for her family."

As Ryland began to redirect her life, she took a job as an aide in a home for the mentally challenged in the District. She dreamed of opening her own home in a few years because she enjoyed the work so much, friends said.

She also developed a passion for the ocean, where she went every year to escape her neighborhood and stress.

Among the photographs brought to the vigil by friends was one that showed Ryland at the beach in Ocean City. In the photograph, she is resting comfortably on a large rock, a smile spreading across her face.

Ryland made her first visit to the shore shortly after leaving drug treatment five years ago, family members said.

"She enjoyed the waters and the peace she gained," said her goddaughter, Lashawn Dews, 28. "It showed her there was another world out there waiting for her."

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