Culver community gathers in prayer to mourn shooting victims

The Culver community gathered Thursday night at a standing-room-only Wesley United Methodist Church on School Street, where an ecumenical, community-wide prayer vigil was held to help students and parents work through their grief.

The vigil was in response to the shooting death on Madison Street of two Culver residents, 44 year-old Michael Price and 16 year-old Stephen Suthard, Wednesday night in an incident still under police investigation.

During the service, many of Culver's clergy led prayers, hymns, and shared encouraging words aimed particularly at Suthard's young Culver Community High School classmates. Candles were lit in remembrance of Suthard, with students -- many of whom wept and embraced one another -- given an opportunity to light their own candles. A nearly wall-size paper was mounted on one wall where friends could leave messages in Suthard's honor, to be given to his parents, much like one made available to students at the high school through the day Thursday.

A similar poster is available for anyone to sign on an ongoing basis in the Culver Public Library's youth area, a favorite after-school hangout of Suthard's.

Throughout the day Thursday, grief counselors and Culver area clergy were on hand for students at the Culver Community High School, some of whom chose to leave the school with their parents, once the news of their sophomore schoolmate's passing was announced during a convocation by principal Albert Hanselman, who also phoned parents with a prerecorded message explaining the situation.

It was noted clergy and counselors will continue to be available Friday at the school as well.

Further investigation of the shootings awaits autopsies on Price's and Sutherd's bodies, which had to be delayed until Monday when the forensic pathologist returns to town.