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‘Community is hurting’ as family buries five children killed in East St. Louis fire | Law and order


In the days leading to the funeral, Tan Gates, executive assistant at Serenity Memorial Chapel funeral home, shopped for clothing in blues and pinks to dress the children for burial, at the request of their mother. Tiaras and princess dresses for the twins. Matching bow ties and vests for the boys.

“I know their mother will never forget that night” of the fire, Gates said in an interview, “but I wanted her last memory of them wearing this to be just beautiful.”

Fundraisers are active

Relatives and friends of Sabrina Dunigan held fundraisers. One that raised at least $14,700 as of Saturday will be distributed through GoFundMe.com with Dunigan as beneficiary. A woman who set it up promoted the fund as raising money for the funeral and to support the mother.

Gates said the funeral home didn’t want to draw from those funds, and instead Serenity Memorial Chapel, the Casino Queen and the East St. Louis Democratic Central Committee paid for the funeral, and businessman Courtney Hoffman paid for the burial.

Greg Dunigan, Sabrina’s father, said he isn’t benefitting from any community contributions. Since the fire, he and his wife have no home and are sleeping sitting up in a two-seater pickup he uses for his tree-trimming business.

As he mourns, Greg Dunigan said he is angry about the fire and its circumstances but keeps coming back to thoughts of his sweet, obedient grandchildren. He was closest to Deontae, he said, and was happy to teach many things to the boy, who in turn taught his younger siblings.

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