‘I don’t want her to be forgotten’: Gardner to hold vigil for Breanne Pennington

Gardner will host a vigil for the victim of a deadly act of domestic violence that occurred in the city last year.

“The time has come for our community to come together and begin the process of healing and begin a form of closure,” said Bernice Richard, president of Voices of Truth and coordinator of the Gardner Domestic Violence Task Force.

Breanne “Breezy” Pennington, 30, was shot to death on Oct. 22 in the bedroom of the Cherry Street home she shared with her husband, Aaron Pennington, who has been charged with her murder and remains the focus of a law enforcement manhunt. During the incident, the couple’s four children ran to a neighbor’s house and were taken into state custody.

Breanne Pennington

Breanne Pennington

The vigil, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Gardner City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 21, will be hosted by the Gardner Domestic Task Force and by Brenda Hull, Breanne’s aunt. She said she felt it important to represent her niece’s family at the event.

“This is a community that has been deeply affected by this, they have been shaken and rattled,” Hull said. “But I think from what I have seen, this a community that has so much love and so much concern, that I genuinely feel there are caring and good people in this community.”

Relative: Couple’s children doing well

The children are now living safely with family members out of state, according to a source. Hull said the children are doing great and have a bright future ahead of them.

“They have an amazing home with amazing parents, they’re in a private Christian school, and they’re happy and smiling and laughing, and they’re excited about their new school,” Hull said.

There will be a donation box at the vigil for the children, girls aged 2 and 9, and boys aged 5 and 7. Organizers are recommending people who would like to donate bring non-clothing items such as toys, school supplies, puzzles, bath toys, and towels. Hull also suggested that the children would probably enjoy receiving cards and comments from the residents of Gardner.

“I want when these children are 18, when they’re older, to have everyone’s thoughts – I want them to know how loved that they were and how people were thinking about them,” Hull explained. “I want them to know that there’s an entire community that was worried about them and loving them and praying for them and wanting to give to them.”

Vigil to remember victim, honor first responders

Proposals for earlier vigils right after the incident were denied by domestic violence advocates, city leaders and law enforcement officials, due to safety concerns and the ongoing nature of the investigation.

“At the time, we all recognized that it was unsafe to do that, so what happened is it left the community with a sense of things being unresolved,” Richard said. “But I have to give the community credit for understanding the reason for the delay.”

An online post with details about the vigil received over 7,000 views within 48 hours, Richard said.

“I don’t know how many people are going to be there, but I hope this is the beginning of awareness and understanding that we all need to be educated about domestic violence,” Richard said.

The vigil, which will include an acknowledgement of local first responders, is aimed at celebrating Breanne’s life while also raising awareness of domestic violence.

“I don’t want her to be forgotten, and I think that her story is so important – its statement about the problem of domestic violence and how insidious it is, and if we can educate people to recognize the signs, that’s what I want to do,” Hull said.

Aaron Pennington remains on the loose. A murder warrant, issued by the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office and filed in Gardner District Court, suggested that the shooting death of Breanne Pennington had been premeditated.

Officials continue to tell the public that Pennington, 33, should be considered armed and dangerous. He is described as a white man with blond hair and blue eyes, 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and approximately 175 pounds. Pennington is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Breanne Pennington vigil in Gardner for domestic violence victim

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