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This past weekend was supposed to be a twofold celebration for the Duke family; Juneteenth and Father’s Day.

Christopher and his wife, Ara Duke, were at Round Rock’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday night. Christopher said he went to the bathroom right before gunshots rang out. He mistook them at first for fireworks.

“Then it dawned on me that this is real, this is not fireworks, said Christopher. “Was just trying to enjoy the evening festival, and a gunshot took somebody away from me.”

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Ara was one of two people killed during a shooting at the event. While details remain unclear, police say ahead of the shooting some kind of altercation broke out. 

Fourteen others were injured but are expected to be okay. Police said the victims were innocent bystanders.

Ara was described by her family as a giver who was especially passionate about helping the kids she worked with at IDEA Public School’s Rundberg campus, both at work and outside of work. 

“She gave, she cared for the kids,” said Christopher. “You know, ‘If I could change someone’s life…’ and that’s why she went into education.”

Ara also leaves behind a 20-year-old daughter, Alena Holmes.

“She just loved checking in on her people and her friends…and she was a very smart woman, educationally, socially, emotionally,” said Alena Holmes, Ara’s daughter. “She taught me a lot of things, and I wish she could still teach me more.”

Christopher said he was so thankful for the outpouring of support he’s received from friends and family across the country. He also expressed his condolences to the family and spouse of Lyndsey Vicknair, the other woman who died in the shooting. 

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“We’re both suffering a tragic loss,” said Christopher.

Instead of flowers, Ara’s family is asking the community to consider donating to the below charities that meant so much to her and are having a major positive impact on the lives of thousands of children.

To donate to NPH USA, click here.

To donate to the Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area (please include a note that says “In Memory of Ara Duke), click here.