Jim Ward is just one of the numerous friends, family members and even total strangers who has been rocked by the New Year's murder of Esme Barrera, a staple of the Austin music scene and a dedicated teaching assistant to children with special needs.
As Austin police search for the man responsible for Barrera's death, Texas locals and far-flung music lovers are banding together to honor Barrera's memory through countless tributes, donation funds, and web sites, even as the threat of her killer, who may have attacked two other women on New Year's, continues to loom large.
Jim Ward Cuts Short Australia Tour
Jim Ward, a close friend of Barrera's, cut short his Australian tour following news of her death.
We just found out a dear friend of Gabe and I has been murdered, Ward said, referencing collaborator Gabe Gonzalez.
We need to get home to be with family, friends and have the support of our gang.
A statement by Ward's Australian promoter to tonedeaf.com confirmed that the indie musician and former front man of At The Drive-In would not appear at a scheduled show in Sydney.
It is with deep sadness [that] Jim Ward must cancel his Sydney show at the Sandringham Hotel, the statement read. A donation page forouresmeb.blogspot.com has been set up to help the family pay for services and expenses.
'The world's lost a shining light.'
Jim Ward is not the only one rocked by the death of Austin's Esme Barrera, an employee at Waterloo Records and summer camp counselor at Girls Rock Austin.
Punk rocker Ted Leo, a favorite of Barrera's, took to Twitter to mourn her loss, as did electro act Yacht.
The world's lost a shining light, music cheerleader, and great human, Yacht's Twitter post read. Our hearts go out to the friends and family of Esme Barrera. No words.
Other indie groups have set up charities to help Esme Barrera's family. Okkervil River has posted link to donate to the Barreras and to Girl Rock Austin, with Ringo Deathstar echoing the call.
Brooklyn Vegan reports that London indie band Allo Darlin' has also paid tribute, writing: This morning we were sent pictures of tattoos that some of her friends have got in memory of Esme, with some of our lyrics written in ink on their skin.
Austin Rocked by Tragedy: 'This is a community emergency.'
But as friends and family struggle to deal with Barrera's loss, even those who never met the inspirational 29-year-old find themselves moved by her loss, and disturbed by the circumstances of her death.
Barrera's killer is still on the loose, and may be connected to two other New Year's attacks. Police have not disclosed how Barrera died, and no suspects are yet in custody.
This is a community emergency, said Mary Ceallaigh, who came to lay flowers on a makeshift memorial for Barrera outside her home.
We've got a very sick individual on the loose, Ceallaigh told The American-Statesman. We need to be mobilized.
Esme Barrera's death has sparked as much outrage and fear as it has gried, with Austin and its surrounding cities terrified that her killer is still on the loss.
The ripples are being felt throughout the community, said Ceallaigh, who is a nanny for some of the special needs children Barrera taught at Casis Elementary School.
'Tell Them. Today.'
As Esme Barrera's friends and family pray for the killer's capture, however, they are equally determined not to let Barrera's memory become solely about her death.
She had a sole purpose of making the world better, and she did that, Barrera's sister Marlena told KXAN.
Music industry exec Gerard Cosloy feels sure that Barrera's message of hope, passion and love will inspire others to appreciate the people in their lives.
If you're reading this, didn't know this woman and you're saying to yourself, big deal, I know someone just like that, tell them. Today.
We can't bring Esme back, he wrote in a recent blog post, but any moment going forward not spent trying to match the very high bar she set... is time wasted.
Alyx Vesey, an instructor at Girls Rock Camp, agrees.
Nobody's going to be able to replace her, Vesey told Culture Map. [But] as long as people go to rock shows, or any shows really, and have the kind of fun she had, we won't lose Esme.
As long as her friends are there to keep her memory alive, she'll be there.