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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Sydney dawn vigil remembers Justine Damond

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Dozens of pink flowers were cast into the water at Freshwater Beach in Sydney as Justine Damond’s family and friends gathered to pay tribute to the Australian woman shot dead outside her US home.

Holding a bouquet of pink flowers and flanked by relatives, Ms Damond’s father John Ruszczyk appeared emotional as he walked to the shoreline at the dawn vigil on Wednesday.

His daughter, who was remembered as a kind, funny and loving woman, was raised on the Northern Beaches and attended nearby Manly High School.

Family, friends and community members stood in silence for about half an hour holding single candles and clutching flowers in pink, her favourite colour, as the sun rose over the water.

Ms Damond, 40, was fatally shot in the stomach by Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor on Saturday.

He fired across his partner at the pyjama-clad Australian from inside a police vehicle after she had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her Fulton home.

US authorities have ruled her death a homicide.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday said Australia wanted answers.

“How can a woman out in the street in her pyjamas seeking assistance from the police be shot like that?,” he told Nine Network.

“It is a shocking killing.”

Australia’s consul-general is supporting the family, Mr Turnbull said.

“We and our hearts go out to her family and our hearts go out to her family and all of her friends and loved ones.”

The meditation teacher and trained veterinarian was due to marry her American partner, Don Damond, next month.

Mr Damond, who says he’s been kept in the dark about the police investigation, has described his fiance’s death as a loss to everyone who knew her.

“Our hearts are broken and we are utterly devastated by the loss of Justine,” he said earlier this week.

“It is difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life.”

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