PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- Members at the First United Methodist Church of Punta Gorda remembered the life of Mary Knowlton at their morning services, Sunday.
Knowlton was a parishioner there and beloved by the community.
On Tuesday night, Mary Knowlton was participating in a community seminar where civilians learn more about how police officers do their jobs. That's when an officer shot her during what was supposed to be a shoot-don't-shoot demonstration, with a gun that was not suppose to be loaded.
Friends of Knowlton tell Fox 4 that she was a stand out citizen. She volunteered at a foster home for boys in Punta Gorda on a regular basis. "She touched everybody's life she came in contact with," said her friend Gail. "Mary not only cooked and helped with the food, she also tutored some of the boys."
Gail and Sonja volunteered with Knowlton at the church library. They shared her favorite book, Wild Flowers of the Holy Land. "She loved wild flowers," said Gail with laughter.
Knowlton's Reverend, Mike Loomis, said laughter is part of the healing process. "Talking about Mary, and that means both laughter and tears. It's a very healing thing, so we're trying to encourage people to do that, remember her, and tell those stories to her family."
She was a wife, mother, and beloved by the community where she volunteered. Her friends said they're dealing with the loss the way she would have. "Loving one another, caring, and caring about the community. We want the community to know we've been there for Mary, she's been there for us, and that's going to continue for her family," said Sonja Singmaster.
Reverend Loomis tells Fox 4 Mary was a woman of faith, and knows that will be support for her family. "Their faith is strong. Mary loved the Lord and her family. That has been a huge part of their support system," he said. "Somehow, even in this tragedy, God is still there to offer His love."