Scores of faces glowed in the flicker of candlelight.
Friends and family gathered Thursday night at Desert Horizons Park in North Las Vegas to remember Paula Davis, the 19-year-old woman who was found shot to death at the park on Sept. 6.
They shared stories of Davis’ kindness, talent, sense of humor and love for others.
“There’s no string of words that can come from my lips to reach your ears that I feel does justice to the person I knew and loved,” 20-year-old Joseph Rios told the crowd.
A makeshift memorial for Davis sat in parking spaces at the park near Simmons Street and Gowan Road. A black-and-white photo of her in a camouflage shirt stood above flowers and candles that spelled out the UNLV student’s name. Standing near the memorial, Davis’ father, Sean, thanked the detectives who worked on his daughter’s case. Officers watched from the back of the crowd.
“On behalf of the family, I can say that you don’t think about all of those things that are part of what you might need at one point in your life, but when you do, that is a great comfort,” he said.
Police arrested 21-year-old Giovanni Ruiz on Tuesday in connection with her death. According to his arrest report, Ruiz refused to accept Davis breaking up with him.
The sun set behind mountains Thursday night in the distance as people came up one by one to share memories.
“I think Paula would want you all to be at peace and to know that she’s going to be OK and that we will, too,” her uncle, Frank Miraglia, said.
Davis’ young brother, Nathan, took over the microphone to address mourners.
“She always helped me through my journey through being a kid,” he said. “She always played with me and always introduced me to new things.”
Although the gathering was somber, those who attended found reasons to smile.
Jonathan Giardino, 20, said Davis brought color to the world.
“The world was a better place with her,” he said.