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Hundreds mourn slain BU student and family members in Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke during a memorial service for Erin Edwards, her brother, Christopher Edwards II, and their mother, Dr. Marsha Edwards, held at Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Ga., on Wednesday. Erin Edwards, 20, was a student at Boston University, class of 2021.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke during a memorial service for Erin Edwards, her brother, Christopher Edwards II, and their mother, Dr. Marsha Edwards, held at Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Ga., on Wednesday. Erin Edwards, 20, was a student at Boston University, class of 2021. Jon-Michael Sullivan for the Boston Globe

ATLANTA— Hundreds of people crowded into the Cascade United Methodist Church in Southwest Atlanta on Wednesday to mourn the violent deaths of a mother and her two adult children.

Police say that last week Dr. Marsha Edwards, 58, shot her daughter, Erin Edwards, a 20-year-old rising junior at Boston University, and her son, Christopher Edwards II, 24, before turning the gun on herself.

“The love we have for you and that we have for Marsha, Chris, and Erin will endure forever,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, addressing the children’s father, Dr. Christopher Edwards, in the front row.

Bottoms said she had lived in the same neighborhood as the children for more than a decade, meeting “Little Chris” when he was just a toddler.

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Both young adults had worked in the mayor’s office over the years — Chris was a digital content manager in the Office of Film and Entertainment and Erin interned last summer with the mayor’s communications team.

Bottoms described Chris as a “true gentleman,” and said of Erin, “Although it truly saddens me that in this lifetime, I will never get to see, laugh, or text with her again, it brings me great joy knowing that Erin lived life fully.”

Edwards, the children’s father and Marsha’s former husband, is a prominent orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority. At some points, speakers on stage addressed him directly, as he gripped the hands of the two people sitting next to him and nodded his head. Elaborate bouquets of white roses, lilies, hydrangeas, and baby’s breath sent from all over the country lined the floor in front of him. He did not speak.

Erin, who wanted to be a journalist, had recently completed an internship at NBC New York.

She was set to return to Boston last week to lead a community service project for freshmen, but on Wednesday she did not arrive in the city. Chris did not show up for his job, either.

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Their father asked a relative to call the police to do a welfare check, according to Jeffrey Dickerson, a family spokesman. When police arrived at Marsha’s home, they found three bodies.

Mourners have many unanswered questions. Kamil “Missy” Finister, a niece of Marsha’s who lived with the family for a year during high school, quoted Toni Morrison to describe the state of the extended family: “There is a hopelessness that comes from knowing too little and feeling too much.”


Zoe Greenberg can be reached at zoe.greenberg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @zoegberg.