In the hours after a suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance of Manchester Arena, a devastated Ariana Grande tweeted:
broken.— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
It was a poignant, heartbreaking reaction from the 23-year-old pop singer, who had been performing on stage moments before the explosion killed at least 22 and wounded dozens more unsuspecting fans and their family members.
Several days later, Patrick Millsaps — a 44-year-old film producer and father of three adolescent Ariana Grande fans — penned an open letter to the pop singer that has since gone viral.
His goal was to lift Grande's spirit and set her "straight" with some fatherly "redneck love."
"You don't have a dadgum thing to apologize for," Millsaps wrote. "If the night before your concert, a tornado had hit Manchester and tragically killed several people who were going to go to your concert; would you feel the need to apologize?
"You see," Millsaps continued, "you are no more responsible for the actions of an insane coward who committed an evil act in your proximity than you would be for a devastating natural disaster or acts of morons near your hotel."
Millsaps next urged the singer to stop listening to anyone who wants to "strategize" her public reaction, and instead take time off to process the attack at her own pace. When she's sincerely ready, he advised, "SING AGAIN."
Music, Millsaps reminded Grande, is the international language of peace.
"Every time you open your mouth and share that incredible God-given gift to the world, you make this crappy world a little less crappy," he said, referring to his statement as "unsolicited advice from a fat dude in Georgia who loves his daughters."
"Take care of you first," he added. "Your fans aren't going anywhere."
Millsaps' message has been retweeted more than 25,000 times and "favorited" more than 50,000. He told NBC's Today show that he wrote the letter thinking "if she was my daughter, this is what I would say to her," and was "overwhelmed and humbled" by the popularity of his message.
Grande has decided not to follow Millsaps' advice about taking an extended break from singing.
Four days after the bombing, the singer announced that she would return to Manchester for another concert to benefit the victims of the bombing and their families.
"Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before," Grande said Friday in a statement shared on Twitter. "I'll be returning to the incredibly brave city of Manchester to spend time with my fans and to have a benefit concert in honor of and to raise money for the victims and their families.
"We will not quit or operate in fear. We won't let this divide us. We won't let hate win."
She added that she would announce the details of the concert as soon as the plans were confirmed. Grande has canceled all shows on her Dangerous Woman tour until June 5.
Many of the victims of Monday's attack were teenagers and children, including an 8-year-old girl named Saffie Roussos.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called it a "callous terrorist attack" that "stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives."
The incident also drew the world's attention to a group of homeless men who have been credited with rushing to the scene to comfort victims and assist rescuers.
"There was a lot of homeless people that stayed there and helped, and that's what we done," Stephen Jones, a former bricklayer who has been homeless for about a year told ITV News. "And obviously when we seen children like that with blood . . . having to pull nails and stuff out of their arms, and I pulled one out of this little girl's face.
"If I didn't help I wouldn't be able to live with myself walking away and leaving kids like that," he said.
The Islamic State claimed that one of its "soldiers" carried out the attack without providing details about the suspect or how it was accomplished. British investigators continue to search for links to potential accomplices as they widen their investigation and continue to conduct raids, rounding up suspects as far away as Germany, The Washington Post reported Thursday.