MOUNT MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (BP)–Pastors from two Southern Baptist churches are among those reaching out to comfort and counsel children affected by the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl by a classmate Feb. 29.
Kayla Rolland, 6, was allegedly shot and killed by a six-year-old boy inside Buell Elementary School in the Flint, Mich., area, according to the Associated Press. The two students may have been involved in a scuffle or quarrel on the playground in which one child slapped another, the AP further reported.
Denzil Green, pastor of Galilean Baptist Church and chaplain of the Flint Police Department, was one of the first pastors called to the scene of the shooting. “I was in the middle of a pastor’s conference when I received the call,” Green told Baptist Press. “The police department instructed me to go to the hospital where they had taken the little girl but when I got there, she had already died.”
Green said family and members of Rolland’s church, Calvary Assembly of God, had gathered at the hospital in the moments after the shooting. “We offered our complete services to the family and Kayla’s church,” Green said.
Green also is the vice president of the local critical stress management team and he said the team will be available to help families of students at the elementary school where the shooting occurred.
Friends of the murdered girl remembered her warm heart and a baby face who was animated and full of joy around the people she knew well.
Greg Grenay, the child’s uncle, told the Detroit Free Press she was involved in Sunday school and church at the Calvary Assembly of God.
“The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who is going to get us through this,” Grenay told the Free Press. “He is the only one who can heal this city with the violence and these guns. They need to get prayer back in school, they need to get Jesus back into the heart of these kids or they’re going to keep killing one another for no reason.”
Stan Bonk, a children’s worker at Calvary Assembly of God, told Baptist Press the church is rallying around the family during this difficult time.
“We’re holding things together,” Bonk said. “But it’s been very tough and our pastor has been staying with the family through the entire situation.”
Robert Oman, who lives next door to the girl, told the Free Press the Rollands moved there last summer. He said Rolland and her siblings were all good kids who played soccer and other games in the front yard of their white frame bungalow.
Randy Wheeler, pastor of West Side Baptist Church in Flushing, said a number of the children at Buell Elementary are participants in the church’s AWANA program. “During our Wednesday night services, we plan on talking to the children and trying to dispel any fears they may have,” Wheeler said March 1.
In addition, Wheeler said several child psychologists and social workers are members of West Side Baptist and will be available on an as-needed basis. “They serve as facilitators when we need them,” he said.
Wheeler said the community has been shocked by the nation’s most recent school shooting in their backyard. “We’re looking at a first-grade classroom,” he lamented. “It’s mind-boggling that a tragedy like this could happen with first-graders.”
Wheeler said the adults in his church will address the issue during Wednesday night prayer services. “We have a very strong prayer meeting. We come to the altar, and tonight we will focus our attention on this family, both families. Everyone is a victim in a situation like this,” Wheeler said.