Family members and friends of 32-year-old Leslie Pinkston are grieving the loss of the longtime Winters resident, who was fatally shot Monday morning on Railroad Avenue downtown.
“She was a beautiful soul,” said her mother, Carla Crane. “She was very kind, but she would stand up for herself, too. She loved people. She didn’t just have friends … half of the people at (Monday evening’s candlelight) vigil went all the way through school with her since kindergarten.”
Crane says she is still in shock but added that she deeply appreciates the support she’s getting from the community.
“I’m overwhelmed with the outpouring of support,” she said. “Even if I can’t take everyone up on it, I know it’s there, and it means a lot.”
Crane clarified that the suspect in her daughter’s shooting, William Carl Gardner III, is not the father of her granddaughter. The couple began dating when Calie, now 6, was just 2 years old, and she calls him her dad but he is no blood relation.
Aimee Jasinowski, one of Pinkston’s friends from the Winters High School Class of 1999, coordinated Monday’s vigil, held just hours after the 9:30 a.m. shooting outside the Aleco Electric office where Pinkston worked.
Another classmate, Dan Schrupp, looked around at the candlelit faces, wet with tears, and said, “This shows how everyone’s feeling right now.”
Also attending the vigil was Pinkston’s cousin, Richard Haywood, who said he will remember her as a very outgoing person, who was “always smiling” and “had a commanding authority about her.”
“She could take over the crowd if she wanted to,” Haywood said. “She was always strong. She was a Pinkston. Even when she was down, she’d pick herself up.”
He added the sentiment of so many at the vigil: “She didn’t deserve this.”
As for the vigil itself, Haywood said the family found it comforting.
“I thought it was a wonderful thing, the community support. It’s really a nice thing to know that she’s loved like that. It really makes a big difference.”
Friends and family have created a video in Pinkston’s memory, which is posted on YouTube and Facebook. A memorial fund has been set up in her name at First Northern Bank in Winters. Funeral services are pending.