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Family, Friends Remember Girl Killed In Accidental Shooting

Reported: Jan. 3, 2014 9:54 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 3, 2014 11:23 PM EST
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QUICK, W.Va. (Kallie Cart) -- A community came together Friday evening to remember a young girl, taken too soon. Ten year old Payton Thomas was accidentally shot by her friend, just two days before Christmas.

The accident happened over Christmas break and when students returned to Ruffner Elementary school in Charleston on Thursday, there was an empty seat in one of the third grade classrooms. So the school and a non-profit group Covenant Outreach came up with a way to try and help the students understand and say goodbye.

"I hope you're in a better place now," That was the message from Breya Franklin to her former classmate and friend, Payton. Franklin remember Payton as fun and not all that girly.

"Her favorite color was camouflage," Franklin said.

Those memories are what these students are hanging onto and putting into small notes that they released into the sky.

"We wanted to give them something tangible as a way to let go and what better way then with a balloon and a note attached," Stephanie Legg with the non-profit group, Covenant Outreach, said.

It was a way for the students to begin to understand and a way for Payton's family to know and see, they are not alone.

"I know she will never be forgotten," Lindsay Thomas, Payton's mom said. "Not just by us but by everybody." Lindsay says the community support has been incredible.

But even through their grief, Lindsay and her husband Michael Thomas, say they are concerned about Payton's friend, the 9-year-old boy who accidentally shot their daughter. They describe him as a great kid and they want to make sure he is getting the support he needs. They say they have reached out to him, but haven't seen him since the day of that terrible accident.

"I wish I could talk to him and see him and hug him because I know he is going through a terrible time," Lindsay said. She also says they don't blame him for the accident.

Payton and that little boy were at his grandparent's house in Quick when the accident happened.

Prosecutors are still looking into whether any adults who were supposed to be watching the kids will be charged.

Payton's parents are urging gun owners to be responsible and keep their gun and ammo in separate locations, locked away from children.



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