RAMSEY, Minn. – More than 1,000 people crowded into Ramsey's Central Park Friday night, filling ballfields and picnic tables as a tribute and candlelight vigil to honor the memory of a devoted mother of four, Courtney Monson.
Anoka County authorities say Monson, 30, was the victim of murder suicide, after she sought refuge in a basement bedroom with three of her four children.
Investigators responded after a 911 call, and discovered her husband, Bryce Monson, 41, shot her multiple times with a semi-automatic handgun. And turned the gun on himself.
"I just want people to focus on the love of her life and that was kids, she wanted to be a mom from the moment that I met her, she was a great mom," said Katie Pilon, Monson's best friend from high school.
So that's what the community did Friday night, filling the fields where she often stood in the stands, cheering kids on. It's where Monson, 30, belonged, as the Anoka Ramsey Athletic Association (ARAA) board, as her children became actively involved in youth sports. She spent thousands of hours as the ARAA volunteer coordinator.
"I can't look behind me because it makes me want to cry, the outpouring of this community has been humbling, it's been inspiring," said Dustin Reeder, ARAA President, who helped organize the tribute.
"Mountains were moved, in the way she did things in terms of volunteering and putting everything into it, there are no words to describe it," said Reeder.
The crowds lit thousands of candles and donated money to support Monson's four children, ages 12, 9, 3 and 2.
A GoFundMe account set up to support the four children, now in the care of Courtney Monson's mother, has raised more than 68,000 dollars.
The family was present at the vigil but requested privacy, and in addition, shared a statement extending heartfelt thanks for the "outpouring of prayers, well-wishes, financial contributions, support and love."
The family thanked the first responders who comforted the children in a time of need.
"Right now, the children have been adjusting to their new settings amazingly well. They are comfortable, happy to be with family and are being well cared for. It will be a new journey for all of us moving forward, but there is love all around and we will be fine. The children will have whatever assistance they need to cope with this tragedy as long as they need it."
The family added, "We will honor Courtney by loving her children as she did, more than life itself."