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PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The backyard at Christopher Duke’s home in Pflugerville is where he said he and his wife Ara would always find peace and relaxation after lengthy commutes or stressful days at work. After her death Saturday from a shooting in Round Rock, he is relying on this outdoor space to revisit all of his happy memories of her alongside the flowers and vegetables she planted there.

“I would not want for her to wither away if the roles were reversed,” Duke said Wednesday while standing on his back porch. “I like to say live, just continue going. Baby, you’ve got something to go forward to. We’re not going to wither away. We’re not going to — this is not the end of the world.”

The couple went to the Juneteenth concert Saturday night at Old Settlers Park, just as they had several times in the past. At the end of the night, Duke said he walked away briefly from his wife and her coworker when gunfire rang out. Round Rock police said bullets struck and killed both Ara and another woman, Lyndsey Vicknair of Manor. Investigators said neither had anything to do with an altercation between two groups that led to the shooting.

“I just broke down and tried to render aid,” Duke said, “and it was just overwhelming.”

He got emotional Wednesday recounting when he came back home to tell his daughter, Alena Holmes, about what happened. She stayed at the house instead of going to the festival with them.

“We wave goodbye. Hey, we’ll see you later tonight, and I come home to tell you, ‘Mom’s not coming home,’” Duke said while fighting back tears.

The family all planned to travel to England next week so that the Dukes could help their daughter move there and reunite with her husband during his recent military deployment. However, that trip won’t happen because of Ara’s funeral.

What especially makes Holmes sad now is thinking about her mother not being able to meet her grandchild when her baby is born in December. She described her mother as “smart, funny, very loving, super kind (and) generous.” She said she’d like her mother to inspire how she plans to parent her own child.

“She always wanted to hear what I had to say, like if it’s just silly things or random things,” Holmes said. “I want to be that for my kid — just hear them talk all day long.”

The family is still waiting for police to make an arrest of the person or people responsible for killing Ara. The Round Rock Police Department has only released a vague description of a possible suspect, but the reward for someone sharing information that leads to an arrest now sits at $20,000.

“The focus right now is on my healing — my healing, my getting through. My daughter’s healing, her getting through,” Duke said. “I can’t focus on the vengeance of what I feel.”

During an interview Wednesday with KXAN, Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan shared a promise for the shooting victims’ loved ones and the community.

“I know what the police are doing. I know how seriously, they’re working tirelessly,” Morgan said. “They’re working long hours because they want to bring them to justice. I can assure you that there will be suspects arrested at some point, and they will be brought to justice.”

Holmes said she also hopes her mother’s death will lead to gun laws changing in the state.

“Even before this, I never wanted to touch a gun,” she explained. “I just have no interest in it, and I just feel like all these events that have happened, it doesn’t make sense to not have any prevention from it because clearly having no control isn’t working.”

A date for Ara’s funeral has not yet been set, but the family said it will happen at some point next week.

Family asking for donations to causes

In lieu of flowers, the Duke family is asking for people to donate to a couple of Ara’s favorite causes.

Ara worked at the IDEA Public Schools Rundberg campus, where she also served as that school’s primary liaison for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. That’s why her loved ones are encouraging people to make a donation to the BGCAA in her honor by including a note that reads “in memory of Ara Duke.”

Additionally, Ara supported the work of and volunteered for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a nonprofit supporting children. A special donation page is now set up online if people would like give something to that group in Ara’s memory.

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