If Randall Kinard was down to his last $5, he’d give it away to make somebody else’s life better, said Bobby Peck.
“No matter what he was going through, or how he was feeling, he would always greet you with a smile and a hug,” said Peck, who organized a candlelight vigil scheduled for 9 p.m. Sunday on Coleman Hill.
Kinard, 33, was shot to death Wednesday afternoon in a jealousy-fueled murder-suicide that ended in a burning house in Houston County.
Christopher Dukes is accused of abducting Kinard as he left work at Azul Salon and Spa on Arkwright Road and fatally shooting him somewhere on the road to 513 Heritage Drive off Dunbar Road, not too far south of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.
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Dukes then allegedly dragged Kinard’s body into the house and set nearly a dozen fires in the residence Dukes previously shared with his former partner, who moved in with Kinard earlier this year, authorities said.
“It has devastated a lot of the community because we had no idea how much we really cared for him and how he touched so many lives,” Peck said. “He worked very many places to pay the bills.”
Kinard was one of the first people Peck met when he came to town.
On a Facebook post about the vigil, nearly 300 people had signed up by midafternoon Sunday.
Saralyn Collins, owner of Grow restaurant on Riverside Drive, opened her business to provide a place for people to gather before the vigil.
“I did not know him personally, but I feel like I do now,” Collins said. “Just by what I gather, he was a very special guy. I wish there was more I could do.”
Dozens of people gathered under blue skies to release balloons in Kinard’s memory at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Organizer Jessica Hanson prayed against forecasted thunderstorms and asked for a day as lovely as Kinard.
“He was beautiful. He was unselfish beauty,” said Hanson, who knew Kinard when they were growing up in Cochran, but did not really get to know him until running into him in downtown Macon about five years ago.
Trying to cheer up her heartbroken mother, Hanson took her to see the drag queens at Club Synergy where Kinard greeted them with a big smile.
“He was family from that point on,” she said.
Hanson wanted the afternoon tribute in case people could not make the candlelight vigil at dark.
“Sharing Randall’s beauty and his life is the way that we heal together,” she said.
Lenon Page, who used to live in Macon, traveled from Savannah to pay tribute to Kinard and his beautiful smile.
On Page’s Facebook page, a grinning Kinard tending bar was his profile picture.
Hanson choked back tears as she spoke about her friend.
“He never talked about himself. He always wanted to know how you were doing. And he’d tell you that you looked beautiful, even if you thought you looked the ugliest you ever had,” Hanson said.
Bibb County sheriff’s Deputy Doug Smith said Kinard was the first person at Club Synergy to say hello to him when Smith moved to town in 2007.
“He was always there for you. He always made you smile, made you laugh,” said Smith, holding onto a red heart balloon. “So let us not dwell on what happened, but remember him for his life.”
Dozens of people shouted, “We love you, Randall,” then watched in silence as colorful balloons drifted into the nearly cloudless sky.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 and find her on Twitternote>