MEDINA, N.Y. (WIVB) – It has been five days since Cheyenne Farewell was shot and killed during a Halloween party in Lockport. It has been one day since Lockport police arrested two teenage boys, and charged them in her murder. Still, her mother, Rochelle Horner, is already forgiving.
“I’m in a place where I want to forgive them. I do forgive them. I’m at peace with that,” Horner said.
“Her life’s work wanted to be reaching out to people that needed help,” Horner added. “I know right now she would not only forgive them. She’d be worried about if they’re doing okay, if they’re hurting, if they went through something as children that made them turn to this kind of life.
“If I’m going to carry on her legacy, I have to do the same thing.”
Jeff Farewell, Cheyenne’s father, is still trying to get there.
“She may be a few steps ahead of me on that one,” he said of Horner. “It’s something that I’ll work through. But my daughter, she would definitely forgive.”
Farewell, 20, was attending the party on S. Niagara Street Friday night into early Saturday morning. That’s when authorities say shots were fired through a metal door. In all, they say six people were shot, ranging in age from 15 to 21. Farewell died on the way to the hospital. Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek said Farewell was not part of the dispute that led up to the shooting.
Later that morning, Jeff Farewell received a text from someone he knew. “I’m so sorry,” it said.
“So I called her, and I said, ‘What are you so sorry about?’ Meanwhile, instinct for me was to go to social media, go to her Facebook page,” Farewell said.
That’s where he saw the messages. “RIP Cheyenne,” they said. Farewell is appreciative of how respectful police were that day as they confirmed the truth. He has no bitterness over how he found out his daughter died, pointing out he doesn’t know when investigators were able to confirm his daughter’s identity. But Horner says this should be a lesson to young people when they go to post on social media.
“People have to stop and think before they post something that the parents don’t always know,” she said. “We should have been the first ones to know.”
Over the course of the week, Farewell and Horner have had the chance to speak with several people who knew their daughter. It confirmed what they already knew.
“We were approached by people who just met her (the night she died),” Horner said. “One girl said we were standing there talking about how nobody ever wants to dance at a party. (Cheyenne) said, ‘I’ll dance with you!’ That was the kind of spirit she had.”
She had taken that spirit to the College at Brockport, where she was studying to become a therapist after graduating from Medina High School. It’s a life-path that didn’t come about at random or by accident. Horner says her daughter spent her life dealing with mental health issues.
“She told me the other day that she made peace with it, and said, ‘I still feel sad sometimes, but I know that I’m going to be okay, and I know that I can make a difference. So I want to be able to help people that are at these low points,'” Horner said.
“The one thing that she really wanted to do when she decided to switch her major to become a therapist was to work with inner city kids,” Horner added. “It always hurt her that – and she had a lot of friends that were in this boat, of not being able to afford a therapist. They’re expensive.”
There’s already at least one person Cheyenne was able to help understand the importance of addressing mental health: her father.
“I was the type of guy that you just shook it off and you continue on with your day and you just ignore it. I’ll be honest,” Jeff Farewell said. “But she taught me that it isn’t something you can just shake off and you don’t ignore it. You have to face your issues head on.”
A GoFundMe page sent up for the family has already raised nearly $30,000 as of Thursday afternoon. Farewell and Horner say they’re interested in taking some of that money, and putting it to a scholarship in their daughter’s honor. It would go to students who deal with mental health issues.
“One of her friends just had a baby (on Wednesday). They share the same middle name now,” Horner said. “That was just very moving to me. Life does go on. We have to go through sad times. But there’s so much beauty in the world.”
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.