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Vigil held in Smithsburg for Baltimore shooting victim

Family members were joined by dozens of friends and former classmates of Joseph Alexander Ulrich Jr.

August 15, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • James Ulrich, left, and his brother, Timothy Ulrich, right, stand behind their father, Joseph Ulrich, and their stepmother, Rose Ulrich, Wednesday night during a candlelight vigil for Joseph Alexander "Alex" Ulrich Jr. at Smithsburg's Veterans Park.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG — Standing in a giant circle all holding lighted candles, a group of about 50 people came together Wednesday night in Smithsburg to share stories and remember a loved one and friend who was taken from them far too soon.

Joseph Alexander Ulrich Jr., 40, who was better known as Alex, died early Friday morning in Baltimore after he was shot multiple times while talking with a friend near his home in the Mount Vernon area of the city. Ulrich’s friend, Lawrence Peterson, 56, also suffered gunshot wounds to his torso.

“We just had a senseless tragedy, and somebody decided to commit a random act of violence against our brother and his friend,” said Ulrich’s youngest brother, James Ulrich.

Family members were joined by dozens of Ulrich’s friends and former classmates for a remembrance vigil at Veterans Park.

“It’s just a great outpouring of support from everyone,” said James Ulrich, who is chief of Smithsburg EMS.

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Tricia Potter said she and Ulrich lived in the same neighborhood growing up and got to be great friends before they graduated together from Smithsburg High School in 1989.

“He was just an all-around great guy,” said Potter, who now lives in Hagerstown. “If you ever needed something or needed cheered up or needed to put a smile on your face, you could go to Alex and he was the man to do that for you.”

Potter said she heard about Ulrich’s passing on Sunday morning on Facebook, in the newspaper and from friends.

“It was just shocking,” she said. “I don’t think still it’s hit me yet that he’s not here.”

Holly Fleger of Smithsburg organized Wednesday’s vigil, one day after hundreds gathered for a similar ceremony in Ulrich’s Baltimore neighborhood, where he recently had moved.

Fleger got a little choked up and teary-eyed talking about her close friend and former classmate.

“I just knew in my heart that I needed to honor Alex somehow,” she said. “We were such close friends in high school.”

Fleger said Ulrich was the kind of person who would do “anything for anybody at any time,” and he was truly what everyone should hope that they could be as a person.

“He touched so many lives, and I figured I needed to provide that opportunity here as well,” she said.

“Alex just lit up everybody’s life, and I wish there was some way to tell him (about) the mark he’s left on the world. I just hope he knows that and how many people he has touched.”

Ulrich was born in Baltimore before his family moved and settled in Smithsburg. While at Smithsburg, he was active in theater and got involved with the Washington County Playhouse after graduation. He later attended Salisbury University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in theater, James Ulrich said.

Alex, who was always careful and cautious in his surroundings, recently had moved to Baltimore to pursue a career in photography when his life was taken so abruptly, his brother said.

“We just don’t want this to happen to another family,” he said.

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