By Jeff Wagner

NEVIS, Minn. (WCCO) – Mourners packed Bethany Lutheran Church hours after the Sunday morning service, filling the sanctuary for a reason none could have anticipated and all still struggle to believe.

“I guess we all knew everyone that was involved. The kids go to our school. There’s just a great deal of hurt,” said family friend Larry Smith.

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He was one of many who attended the vigil. It was a chance for everyone to heal as a town after a Valentine’s Day they’ll never forget. That’s when investigators say sisters Heidi Pierce and Candi Goochey were killed in a series of shootings that began outside an at-home daycare.

Candi Cheryl Goochey (credit: Facebook)

A neighbor said the two women were there to pick up their other sister’s children.

Heidi Eve Pierce (credit: Facebook)

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Their brother-in-law, Bryce Bellomo, is the man suspected of shooting them. Investigators say he took his own life not long after a gunfire-filled police chase that lasted about 20 minutes.

“It’s never happened like this before. We’ve had homicides, yeah, but something like this we have not seen before,” Hubbard County Sheriff Corey Aukes said.

Bryce Anthony Bellomo (credit: Facebook)

A GoFundMe page set up for the families said Pierce and Goochey were both mothers who were awesome, funny people.

Money raised would pay for funeral costs with the rest going to their many children. It’s a devastating loss for several families that neighbors came to know so well.

“They were awesome people, outgoing, very friendly, just great people, always inviting,” said neighbor Eddie Neidviecky. “I’ve spent Christmases with them before. Just a small town, everybody knows everybody, and yeah it’s just really saddening.”

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A deputy was shot during the pursuit but is recovering. The Minnesota BCA is leading the investigation.

Jeff Wagner