Berry community grieves another student

Jessie Goodson, Campus Carrier News Editor

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McDaniel and his father on a fishing trip. Photo from Facebook

On Saturday, the Berry community was informed of the death of 20-year-old Joseph McDaniel, a junior business management major. 

McDaniel, from Columbus, Ga. was shot and killed early Saturday morning around 2 a.m. at an apartment complex on Old Summerville Rd.

Ricket Damon Carter, 19, of Columbus, Ga. and Troy Jamal Cokley, 19, of Riverdale, Ga. have been charged with murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery and possession of controlled substance, according to the Floyd County Police Department.

According to Hometown Headlines, McDaniel’s body was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for an autopsy before being released to the family for burial. 

Dean of Students Debbie Heida sent an email to faculty and staff informing them of the murder on Saturday afternoon. The email also offered support to students from the Counseling Center and the Chaplain’s Office.

It has been a difficult semester. With sorrow and regret, I share that Joseph McDaniel was shot and killed last night at an off-campus location on Old Summerville Road,” the email read.

On Sunday, an “informal prayer time” was held in Barnwell Chapel for students and members of the Berry community. 

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McDaniel and his sister, Mary Catherine next to Viking Trail. Photo from Facebook

Senior Sarah Bryan played guitar, and senior John Anders played piano at the prayer service. Assistant Chaplain Erin Moniz read scripture and offered support to students during their time of grief.

“Grief is not something we should be afraid to feel or express,” Moniz said. “I want to give you comfort that it’s really good to grieve, it’s really good to feel sadness.”

As friends of McDaniel’s and their community members gathered in the chapel, Moniz continued to encourage those grieving. 

“Over the next few days and weeks, a lot of us will walk around without knowing exactly what to say where it hurts, but it will hurt nonetheless,” Moniz said.

Heida sent out an additional email on Wednesday, notifying students of McDaniel’s visitation and funeral arrangements. 

McDaniel’s visitation and funeral will be at St. Anne’s Catholic Church, located at 2000 Kay Circle in Columbus, Ga. The Visitation will be on Friday, with the Rosary from 4:30-5 p.m. and visitation from 5-7 p.m. The funeral will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Berry administration has made transportation arrangements for students who would like to attend. McDaniel’s friends and family have offered a place for Berry students to stay the night if they chose to attend both the visitation and the service.

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Ricket Carter (left) and Troy Cokley (right), the two suspects in McDaniel’s murder.

Berry’s flag will remain at half-mast through McDaniel’s funeral on Saturday and will also be at half-mast for the campus memorial service, which is expected to be sometime next week.

Heida ended the email with:

Grief is both personal and collective,” Heida wrote in the campus-wide email. “Each of us grieves for the loss of Joseph in our own way as well as our community grieves for the loss of one of our own. The loss at the hands of someone else is particularly painful and difficult to wrap our heads and our hearts around. Grief on top of grief compounds the hurt and shock within our campus community. If you are hurting, please talk to someone. If you need help, please reach out to one of our student or professional staff members. Our Counseling Center and the Chaplain’s Office are great resources but so are many of our faculty, staff and peer advisors/mentors/resident advisors who would welcome the chance to pause and help you as you grieve.”

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