A light, a joy: Loved ones remember 74-year-old woman killed by 'celebratory gunfire' on Fourth of July
Friends, family and loved ones of Paulette Thorpe say she was a positive light, a joy, and someone who brought laughter to everyone. She was visiting a friend on the Fourth of July when she was hit by a stray bullet from 'celebratory gunfire' that echoed across Durham that night.Posted — Updated
Family, friends and neighbors of 74-year-old Paulette Thorpe say she was a very sweet woman who brightened up everyone’s day with her positivity and laughter. In fact, she was doing just that – celebrating the Fourth of July at a friend’s house on Burlington Avenue – when she was struck by a stray bullet that fell from the sky.
On the Fourth of July, 'celebratory gunfire' could be heard echoing around some Durham neighborhoods.
“Boom boom boom. Sometimes I can’t really tell between a bullet, a gunshot and a firework," said Linda Leak, a friend of Thorpe.
Family members said Thorpe had left a family get-together across town, deciding to head back home as it got darker and rowdier from the fireworks.
She stopped along the way to see some friends, just a block away from her house. That's when she was struck by the bullet.
“For it to be a block away from where she lives and ultimately get killed by the one thing she was trying to get away from – I think that’s what’s really not sitting well with me," he said.
"She could’ve still been with us," he added.
A joy and a light: Remembering Paulette Thorpe
Thorpe was known by many as a kind hearted, loving woman. Leak said, "She was always dressed so nice. And she would just hit you with a smile.”
Alvin V. recalled Thorpe, saying she was, “A lady who worked all her life. A productive member of society."
Thorpe was the second-oldest of 10 other siblings. She was a Hillside High graduate and longtime nursery unit clerk at what is now Duke Regional Hospital.
Thorpe leaves behind children, grandchildren, siblings and many other family members and friends. She would have turned 75 on July 31.
Alvin V. said it's a tragedy to have her fall behind someone just having a good time shooting a gun into the air.
“It could’ve been my mother, my sister, somebody’s daughter," he said.
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