FORT WORTH -- Ten months after Deidra Blackmon started a job in information technology, she called her father.
"Dad," she said, "I don't want to do this."
He asked her what she wanted.
"Exactly what I told you when I was 8," she replied. "To be a vet."
Blackmon followed her childhood dream. Her determination and love for animals were among the qualities celebrated by hundreds of people who filled the pews of Heritage Church of Christ on Saturday to mourn her.
The Grapevine veterinarian was shot to death a week ago after a night out with friends at the Fort Worth Stockyards to celebrate a friend's upcoming wedding. Police say shots were fired at Blackmon's car after a friend vomited near a stranger's car in a convenience store parking lot.
Two people were arrested in connection with her death. Jeffery Hansana, 24, of Haltom City faces a charge of murder, and his girlfriend, Heather Rene Thompson, 22, of Euless, is accused of failing to report the shooting.
Blackmon was 33 years old.
But little attention was paid to the details of her death Saturday. Mourners instead shared stories of her life, weeping quietly and embracing one another.
A slide show depicted Blackmon cuddling with dogs and petting horses, hugging friends at birthday celebrations, smiling brightly in her cap and gown at graduation from the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Reading a eulogy written by her parents, Chris and Debbie Blackmon, the church's senior minister, Jim Hackney, recounted Blackmon's conversation with her father.
"We are in a place no family ever imagines or comprehends," her parents wrote, adding that they were overwhelmed by the support and love of God and the community.
The family shared memories, some funny and others poignant.
At a grocery store, a woman once asked Blackmon, then 4, what she was getting for Christmas.
Blackmon deadpanned, "A sack of rocks," before turning away.
As a teenager, she learned to drive on the same Mustang her brother, Justin, and her father had learned on.
When her parents bought a beat-up 1955 Chevy, Blackmon claimed it as her own. They agreed, but under one condition. If she wanted to drive it, she had to work on it, so Blackmon assembled the engine herself.
In her first year of veterinary school, Blackmon called her parents often.
"I can't do this," she told them.
Soon, however, she had surrounded herself with bright classmates and felt at ease performing difficult surgeries and handling a scalpel. She graduated in 2010.
Bruce Nixon, chief of staff at the Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas, where Blackmon worked, recalled her fierce determination and ability to multitask.
She first approached Nixon and asked to work occasional relief shifts at the hospital. Nixon agreed.
"We never hear from the vast majority of them after their first shift," he said.
But this young vet was different.
"Deidra was a sight to behold on the floor of the ER," he said. She could juggle numerous tasks at once, tending to sick animals, stitching up injured dogs and preparing for challenging surgeries.
Sharman Hoppes, Nixon's wife and an associate professor at Texas A&M who taught Blackmon, told mourners she has been flooded by emails and phone calls from fellow professors, administrators and clients.
One client recounted a recent conversation with Blackmon about her love for animals.
"When I cross over," Blackmon told the client, "I know all of my animals will be there waiting, and I had quite a few."
Sarah Bahari, 817-390-7056