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'It's Just Heartbreaking': Prayer And Grief Highlight Vigil For Eli Hart

MOUND, Minn. (WCCO) -- Hundreds wept, sang and prayed near Westonka Library Friday evening in memory of 6-year-old Eli Hart.

The news that Hart was found dead inside the trunk of a car his mother was driving Friday, May 20, has since gripped the community, organizers say.

"It's just heartbreaking. I can't believe this happened," said Chris Foley, who worked to arrange the event Friday. "I just would hope that everybody could come together and try to heal from all this. It's horrible what happened here."

Worship leaders from a nearby church sang "Amazing Grace" and other worship songs, and pastors from multiple congregations shared a message of love and recovery.

"It's been touching to see the outreach for people. I felt like it just needed to get done," said Jessica Gould, who also organized the event.

"This is a small representation of the folks that are suffering and mourning in our city," said Mound Mayor Ray Salazar.

People in attendance ranged from Hart's teachers, classmates, family friends and even those who didn't know him.

"Everybody pretty much knows everybody somehow (in this town)," said Melissa Martz, who attended with her daughter Katelyn.

Martz says she recognized photos of Eli, who frequently visited the gas station she worked at with his mother.

"Shock, angry, sad, obviously, but more angry just not understanding how a mother could do something like that to her own child," Martz said.

The Mound Fire Department presented Hart's family with a fire helmet customized with his name. Hart had told his parents and others he one day had dreamed of becoming a fireman.

"He was just always smiles and happy and full of life," said Brian Gnerer, whose family twice fostered Hart. "He touched our whole family, so we just knew we had to be here tonight to honor his name."

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