A day to celebrate victim's life
By James Peacemaker, Jr., Managing Editor
Mar 4, 2013, 15:29
CHESTER — While the event was mostly a somber one, friends and family of Rusty Mack shared laughs Saturday as a way to ease the pain following his killing and to raise money for his funeral.
“I know that Rusty always wanted to see me perform. It’s just sad that he had to see me perform this way,” said Kelly Doane, as he pointed upward. Doane, a standup comedian who goes by KD the Comic and had been on the TV show “Last Comic Standing,” hosted the gathering.
photo by James Peacemaker, Jr. Rusty Mack’s neighbor and friend Kelly Doane performs during the event.
Doane and his fiancee Kat McCarty, who served as DJ for the event, lived across the hall from Mack.
The fundraiser packed the parking lot at the Quality Inn in Chester as people came to pay their respects and donate. The event included a raffle, auctions of donated items, and half a dozen vendors all to help cover funeral costs. Several people helping raise money had never met Mack, but they came to show their support after hearing about the tragedy.
photo by James Peacemaker, Jr. Members of the Powhatan Hunt Club show their support for Rusty Mack.
Mack died Thursday after being in a coma for more than two weeks.
The 21-year-old had been in critical condition since Feb. 11 after he was beaten by several people outside his apartment building on the 1100 block of Shuford Avenue next to the post office.
Four people have been charged in the attack.
Mack’s estranged wife, Ashley Kate Mack, 19, Jonathan Brice Guy, 20, and an unnamed 17-year-old girl face charges of first-degree murder and murder by mob, according to Sgt. Rob Ruxer of the Colonial Heights Police Department. A fourth person, Francis Joseph Blaha III, 20, now faces a charge of murder by mob.
The three adults are being held at Riverside Regional Jail without bond. The juvenile is being held at the Chesterfield Juvenile Detention Center.
At the event Saturday, friends shared stories of a polite, energetic and outgoing young man who would do anything to help people.
One former classmate spoke of how he accidentally rear-ended Mack in a car crash. He said when the police officer arrived on the scene, Rusty tried to take the blame even though it was clearly not his fault.
Members of the Powhatan Hunt Club came out in force to show their support decked out in camouflage jackets and blaze orange hats.
Tony Richmond said Mack had been part of the 35-member club for about four years. He said Mack’s father got him interested in hunting and that Mack hunted every Saturday and every other day he had the chance.
Club members recalled Mack as polite with a “yes sir” and “no sir,” and that he was very trustworthy, noting they wouldn’t want someone alongside them with a gun if they were not.
When Jim Zarling, a nationally touring comic from Charlottesville, kicked off the show, he joked that everyone was dressed in camo because it was seagull season at the local Wal-Mart.
No subject seemed taboo for the comics who performed. Topics ranged from strippers to rednecks to violence against child reality TV star Honey Boo Boo and even included an impression of a drunken Mack welcoming Doane home after a day of work.
photo by James Peacemaker, Jr. Sarah Stanley signs a posterboard with photos of Rusty Mack.
But the often-profane routines were all done to lift spirits during a time of sorrow, and in the end they raised thousands of dollars for their cause.
A funeral for Mack is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 3110 Greenwood Ave., Colonial Heights. Interment will follow at Southlawn Memorial Park in Prince George.