COLUMBIA — Forty people gathered at the Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church to mourn the death of Jerry Schneider, a local homeless man. Schneider was found dead Sunday morning at a homeless camp near Interstate 70.
“He had his ups and downs with people, but he was always a good man,” said Billy Pilger, a friend of Schneider's for seven years. “Even when he cussed you out.”
The service included a reading of Psalm 22, a candlelight vigil and a recitation of “Amazing Grace.”
Tammy Crow, another friend of Schneider's, said he was a very generous man who didn’t always have something to give, but always gave what he could.
In addition to family and friends, a number of concerned citizens attended the service.
Jill Lambergi, who works with people with disabilities, said she thinks Columbia doesn’t care about homeless people.
“With all the vacant buildings and resources in this town, I think we as a civilized society should do more,” she said. “Thank God there’s Loaves and Fishes. But the problem is there are so many restrictions. People can’t come in drunk and that’s often a problem.”
Lambergi said she wishes Columbia’s homeless had professional on-site services available.
The service ended with a reading of the names of Columbia’s deceased homeless over the past 12 years. Hallsville resident Nancy Parks compiled the list of 13 names. Two of the deceased were identified only as John Doe.
“It’s so easy to sweep these people under the rug when they’re homeless,” Parks said.
Police are investigating Schneider’s death as a homicide and have not identified a suspect.
“This has got me so confused,” Pilger said. “Who would do something like this?”