VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Pharrell Williams on Friday visited a memorial for the victims of last week’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach.
Twelve people were killed and four others were wounded after a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.
A memorial outside the municipal center has grown considerably in the days since, as many people visited the site to honor the victims.
Mounds of flowers, stuffed animals and notes have lined an area next to crosses with the names of last Friday’s mass shooting victims.
Pharrell, a Virginia Beach native, showed up at the memorial Friday afternoon to pay his respects to the victims.
Afterwards he gave hugs to those who need them most right now, the families of the victims who were at the memorial site. The family of Ryan Cox, one of the 12 victims, embraced the music icon and Virginia Beach native.
City and state officials honored the 12 people killed in a “VB Remembers” service Thursday in front of thousands of community members of different faiths and backgrounds gathered at the Rock Church.
The emotional service included prayers for healing and songs of comfort for the grieving family members of the victims.
“You don’t expect this to happen. I know everybody said this a million times, you know, you don’t expect this to happen in your home,” said Virginia Beach resident Denise Martin.
Michael Wolf sat out here for hours playing a hand drum, “for that split second right there all that pain, all the nonsense for that one half a second is gone.”
Visitors came from states away, like Dentis Shaw here from Atlanta with his organization Honorband.
Shaw says he came “to be with the families. To be with those 12 families and let them know that I love them and I care about them.”
He drives a pink Nissan Cube, covered in past tragedies his organization has helped with. Now Virginia Beach has a spot by Virginia Tech, Charleston, Parkland and San Bernadino.
Congresswoman Elaine Lauria was also at the memorial hugging those still grieving.
“As an elected official I feel like my job is to give hugs,” said Luria. “I think at first it’s a shock to community, that something like this happened here. and I think we can see now how much these people mean to our community collectively and it’s bring people together.”
City officials say the memorial will stay up at least as long as the funerals.