MECOSTA COUNTY, Mich. — Morley Stanwood Community Schools held a candlelight vigil Monday night for the victims of a shooting that left three children and their mother dead.
6-year-old Katelynn Gillard, 4-year-old Ronald Gillard, 3-year-old Joshua Gillard and their mother, 40-year-old Dawn Gillard were shot and killed at their home in Mecosta County Friday night.
6-year-old Katelynn Gillard was a student at Morley Stanwood Elementary School and the school district is organizing the vigil to help the community mourn.
Superintendent Roger Cole says the entire family made an impact on the district.
"You got to think about the fact that the student had, who was who was their teacher last year? Who was your teacher this year? Who was their bus driver? Right? Who's their favorite food service person, right? The custodian who gives them a high five in the hallway," he says. "All those things that are just amazing. The number of lives that a little person touches that you have to help."
"As a school district, we try to say on a regular basis, we are a family, we treat each other like a family, we try to grow like a family, it would be we'd be remiss if we didn't extend that out to the greater community," Cole says. "The evening here is to try and bring people an opportunity to maybe begin healing."
The night started with a walk around the track, followed by a moment of silence then speeches by Cole and a local pastor.
School resumes for students on Tuesday and school counselors alongside additional counselors and trauma specialists will be on hand for students if needed.
Community members made donations at the vigil to help the family at this time, and the school district is collecting donations. Cole says a check written out to the district with "candlelight vigil" in the memo line will be added to the fund.
The school district also provided phone numbers for individuals who need someone to talk to:
Investigators say a 51-year-old man shot Gillard and the three children before turning the gun on himself. He's in critical condition and his name has not been released as he has not been charged.
"I've seen lots of tears from grown men and grown women. I've heard people ask the question that everybody asks, 'How does that happen? How does the person do that?'" Cole says.
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