Baseball Community Raises Money to Support Rays Prospect Whose Wife, Toddler Son Were Killed
Emily Bivens, the couple's 1-year-old son Cullen, and her mother were found dead
Family, friends, and fellow baseball players are mourning the deaths of three members of minor league baseball pitcher Blake Bivens’ family.
Emily Bivens, the couple’s 1-year-old son Cullen, and her mother were found dead Tuesday morning at a home in Keeling, Va., after a neighbor called police to report the body of a female victim in the driveway of the home around 8 a.m. All three victims had been shot to death.
Our Baseball Life, an organization that supports families of professional baseball players, has organized a GoFundMe to raise money for the funerals.
“We are devastated by the loss of our friend and fellow baseball wife,” the organizers wrote. “Emily had an incredible heart for the Lord and shared His light to many through her writings in Baseball Chapel. She deeply loved this community of baseball women and was a comforting, kind soul to all who knew her. Our hearts are with her husband Blake and her family during this unimaginable time.”
Police have arrested Emily’s brother, 19-year-old Matthew Bernard.
Police say that he had escaped into the woods, sending several local schools into lockdown. Later on Wednesday, he emerged, completely nude, near a church, according to video captured by WSET.
The footage appears to show Bernard circle an officer multiple times before approaching a man in the church parking lot, reportedly the church’s caretaker, and placing him in a chokehold. He eventually releases his grip after an officer approaches with a Taser and mace, and takes off once again.
The video then appears to show Bernard run toward a group of officers who finally apprehend him as he tries to run into the woods once again.
PEOPLE confirms that Bernard was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. According to the Danville Register and Bee, he is being held on suicide watch.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
It was not immediately clear if Bernard has retained a lawyer who could comment on his behalf. No bond has been set.
The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Bivens, 24, is a pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and currently plays for the team’s Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, in Alabama.
The Biscuits canceled a doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday night in the wake of the tragedy.
“Earlier today, we learned that one of our players, Blake Bivens, suffered unimaginable loss. First and foremost, the Biscuits thoughts and prayers are with Blake and all those who have been impacted by this tragedy,” CEO and managing owner Lou DiBella said in a statement. “We appreciate the outpouring of support and concern, but ask that you respect the privacy of the family during this difficult time.”
The Tampa Bay Rays also offered their support, writing in a statement: “Earlier today we learned that Blake Bivens, a pitcher with our Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, suffered a terrible family tragedy in southern Virginia. Our hearts are broken for Blake. We are grieving with him and will support him any way we can. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the Bivens family and the Biscuits family during this extremely difficult time.”
Blake and Emily were married in January 2016, and welcomed son Cullen Micah in June 2018, according to their Facebook pages.
Blake previously shared a sweet message to Emily, who described herself as a “lover of Jesus, wife, mama, [and] photographer,” to mark their third wedding anniversary this year.
“I can go on for days about how much you have changed me for the better. However, there’s one thing you can’t change and that’s how much I love you and how wonderful you are to me! I love you with all my heart!” he wrote. “Happy anniversary baby your [sic] the greatest wife and baby momma anyone can ask for!”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.