A few hundred of Lisa Marie Melancon's family members and friends filled the front yard of her home on South Bell Street on Friday evening to celebrate her life, which was cut short by a stray bullet less than 24 hours earlier.
Her brother Vinney Silva, his face full of pain, stood on the porch of the small house where she was shot.
“This is the very spot my sister took her last breath,” he said, adding that seeing her there last night will be “in our minds forever.”
He asked everyone to bow their heads and “think of something real good.”
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Then he asked not for mourning, but for a celebration of the life of a loving, giving person.
“If you knew her, she knew how to celebrate,” Silva said. Laughter broke out on the lawn among those who knew her well. Silva asked for forgiveness for the person who shot his sister.
“You just have to forgive … that’s the only way to move forward,” he said.
Nineteen-year-old Brendan Wilson also paid tribute to his mom, saying that she happened to be out on the porch trying to help diffuse a stressful situation.
“The last thing she did was out of the goodness of her heart,” he said; he also told the crowd that everyone there was together because of her.
Tacoma police closed off South Bell Street at South 72nd Street for the event. Cars lined the street. The Lifters, a Tacoma car club, came with their hot cars and black T-shirts. They knew Lisa and her husband, Joe. Many of her co-workers were there.
Tacoma police officers, in and out of uniform, came to honor her. Top police brass were there, including Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell.
Melancon was a code-enforcement officer for the city. She knew many police officers, particularly the community liaison officers.
Safe Streets groups from various neighborhoods – Mann, Alling, Larchmont, Lincoln – were there in large numbers. Malancon had worked with many of them to help keep Tacoma clean and help reduce crime.
Ken and Danel Smith counted the Melancons as their best friends. They vacationed together twice a year.
“You cannot not like Lisa,” Ken Smith said. “She was a great mom and great wife. She gave of herself to everyone.” And he was angry.
“It’s a senseless act,” he said of the shooting and recalled the four Lakewood police officers who were shot last year.
Wearing a flowered shirt, Melancon’s father, Manny Silva, walked through the crowd carrying a photo album. There was a page of photographs just for Lisa. They showed a youngster with a big smile.
“She was gregarious, outgoing,” he said. “She was there for the homeless, the hapless, the strapped.”