Catholic Charities starts scholarship in memory of two shooting spree victims

$2,000 scholarships awarded to two recipients every year

FRESNO, Calif. - Catholic Charities Diocese of Fresno is hoping to help keep two victims, who were shot and killed in the April 18 shooting spree, memory alive in a very special way.

Mark Gassett and David Jackson were clients of the organization and received some of the services the nonprofit offers.

"I don't want him to be forgotten," said Rosie Wagner, Mark Gassett's mother.

It's been a week since Rosie Wagner lost her son, Mark Gassett, to a senseless act of violence.

Mark was one of three victims who was shot and killed in a shooting spree in downtown Fresno. Wagner said her son was getting groceries from a place that was helping him get on his feet.

"I thank them down at (Catholic Charities) Catholic Charities for everything that they've done," said Wagner.

Catholic Charities, a nonprofit, provides services to those in need. David Jackson, 58, also a victim, was at the nonprofit to cash a check. Jackson was shot outside, in the parking lot.

The organization wants to honor the memory of both Mark and David and will give out two scholarships in their names.

"We're going to provide two scholarships every year, each one at $2,000 a piece and it's going to go to somebody who qualifies, who's in need," said Kelly Lilles, executive director for Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Fresno.

The organization said the scholarship will be an educational one for anyone in need from Merced to Bakersfield. Those who are interested will have to write a 500 word essay explaining why they need it.

Catholic Charities said this is a way to turn something tragic into a positive legacy for the two men.

"We are here to serve the community and we will continue to serve the community, that's our goal," said Lilles.

Mark's family said that's all they want, to know people will be helped. Wagner hopes that whomever gets the scholarship will think of her son.

She said he loved computers and although he wasn't able to finish school, he was looking forward to his sons going to college. Wagner said the educational scholarship is a perfect way to honor Mark.

"It's fantastic that they are remembering him and the other victims and I hope it does go to someone that it can really help," said Wagner.

Catholic Charities said they are currently taking submissions for the scholarships. The nonprofit said it hopes to pick two recipients and give them the scholarship for the fall semester.

Applicants must complete a 500 word essay on what the scholarship would mean to them and
send to:

Catholic Charities, ATTN: Scholarship Committee, at 149 N. Fulton Street, Fresno, CA 93701.

Scholarship recipients will be announced in the Fall.

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