Fans Congregate for a Vigil at Redskins Park
'We're All Here And We're Praying And We're Hoping'

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fans usually come to Redskins Park to celebrate the start of training camp, but last night, they gathered to hold a two-hour vigil for Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who was shot and critically injured at his Florida home early yesterday morning.

Some fans wore Taylor replica jerseys or other Redskins regalia, others stood in business suits having driven straight from work to show support for Taylor, who was in critical condition in an intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital's trauma unit in Miami.

"Everybody wanted to do something and didn't know what to do," said Christie Lopez, 32, of Ashburn, who helped organize the vigil. "So people started calling, [instant messaging], starting threads, asking what we can do. And then came the idea of a prayer vigil here at Redskins Park. . . . We're all here to show that we care."

The fans ranged in age and background, some traveling from Maryland while others made the trip from just down the road in Ashburn. Dale Hobbs, 51, traveled from Fairfax and brought his sons Brian, 9, and Sean, 11.

"The boys asked to come out, we heard it on the news that they were doing this and they wanted to come out here and feel a connection to it," Hobbs said. "They had been feeling kind of down about the whole incident and feeling sorry for Sean Taylor and they are big fans and once they heard about this little vigil they wanted to come out and be more connected to Sean and the Redskins and just be a part of the overall community and show their support for him."

Matt Williams, 22, of Sterling came out with his friends Donnie Guthrie, 25, and Brian Rich, 22. Williams said he heard about the shooting while at work in the morning.

"I would say it was about 7:30 and I got a phone call from my little brother, who is 19, who is a die-hard Redskins fan," Williams said. "My jaw dropped. I was just in shock. I called my dad, I called my family and everyone was in shock."

By 6:45 p.m., about 45 fans had shown up at Redskins Park, with more cars arriving every minute. At the time, the news was grim -- there were reports indicating that Taylor was unresponsive and possibly in a coma. But fans expressed hope that Taylor would recover. They stood in a circle while David Barahona, 31, of Centreville, led the group in prayer.

In the center of the circle a poster made by James Duncan, 27, of Ashburn, sat on a chair. "God Bless Sean Taylor" was written at the top of the poster, and the words "We Will Stand Together" were written in the middle of the sign.

At around 7:30 p.m., the fans heard that Taylor was responsive to a doctor's request to squeeze his hand and make a facial expression, and they erupted in cheers. Fifteen minutes later, cars still lined the road leading to Redskins Park, candles remained lit and hopes were high.

"We have to support each other and lean on each other," Lopez said. "We're all here and we're praying and we're hoping. We just gave a big 'Hail Redskins' for him because he's a fighter."

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