WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — In Walker County, a grieving community honors the life and death of a beloved father, son and friend, Matthew Douglas Perrigin.

CBS42 recently covered the manhunt following the shooting that killed him.

It was a somber atmosphere at Dora High School where those who knew Perrigin gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember his life.

CBS42 spoke with several family members who said the vigil was not only held to highlight all that Perrigin was but to also bring awareness to the harsh realities of gun violence.

According to his family, Perrigin died after being shot during a car robbery in January. His mother, Kelly Perrigin, says he was her everything.

“He was my boy,” said Perrigin. “I got 2 daughters and they used to tease me about him being the favorite and I’d say, ‘No he’s just the boy.’”

Perrigin’s family said he was a 2009 graduate of Dora High School- A multisport athlete who loved life.

“He was like sunshine,” said Perrigin’s aunt, Rachel Tittle. “His smile lit up the room.”

“He had a big heart,” said his father, Lloyd Perrigin. “He would give you the shirt off his back. He was there for you if you needed a helping hand.”

Perrigin’s sister, Sarah Perrigin, told CBS42 he was her protector.

“He was always there, regardless of circumstance,” Perrigin said. “He was my right-hand man, my go to, you know, my rock wall. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s always done for me.”

Community activist Harry “Traveling Shoes” Turner spoke at Perrigin’s candlelight vigil. He stresses this situation involving gun violence is not a movie… it’s reality

“Real bullets, real guns, and a real son has been lost,” said Turner

He says gun violence is an evil that does not discriminate. The family said they hope spreading this message will spare others from this heartbreak

“It didn’t have to result in that,” said Kelly Perrigin. “It didn’t have to result in Matthew’s death.”

“So this vigil tonight for her son, it’s for all of us to tell each other, ‘Let’s love on each other and let’s care for each other and let’s stop taking loved ones away from people,’” said Turner

Perrigin’s parents said their loss and the pain they feel is very real and that gun violence is a reality that must come to an end. Turner said we can only drive out this hate with love.

Investigators believe Corey Mahaffey and his son Kaison are responsible for Perrigin’s death. They are both in custody.