Ambriel Bowen was a jokester. She would sing to her friends in an Alvin and the Chipmunks-style voice and dance on her family's front porch.

"She was the light in my house," Ambriel's mom, Tami Richards said Friday night.

Despite Ambriel's bubbly personality, Richards said, her daughter had problems with neighborhood bullies, which she believes led the 14-year-old to take her own life Monday night by hanging herself in her family's home in the 100 block of South Albemarle Street.

With the help of neighbors, church friends and family, Richards organized a vigil in Ambriel's memory at Albemarle Park in York Friday night.

More than 100 people gathered around the park's pavilion to sing and light candles in memory of Ambriel -- holding up the tiny flames and shouting "I love you, Ambriel," before sharing memories about the girl who sang and danced with younger kids on her block.

People lined up to talk to Richards -- handing her flowers, cards and candles while they exchanged memories of Ambriel and dried each other's tears.

"She loved to sing and dance," Richards said after the vigil. "She's singing in heaven now."

Richards said she knew about Ambriel's bullies -- neighborhood kids who she said once broke her daughter's nose as she played in the park.

But she never knew her daughter wanted to end her life.

"She was always happy -- never depressed, never seemed upset," Richards said. "She hid it, and I wish I would have known how she hurt."

Friday night's turnout was "overwhelming" to Richards, with Mayor Kim Bracey making an appearance to tell kids in attendance that she's "not going to tolerate certain behaviors in the community."

Bracey encouraged children to talk to parents, teachers or other authorities if they're being bullied.

Richards also said she would speak to anyone being bullied or who feels the need to bully in an effort to help people.

"God is bigger than any bully," she said. "Ambriel has a lot of people that love her, and I wish she would have known that before."
rlefever@ydr.com; 771-2088

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