Bell Tragedy: Community Mourns Lives Lost
BELL - Family members of the victims of the brutal crime aren't the only ones affected. Gilchrist County is coming together to try to heal from the tragedy. And there’s more than just prayers for Bell.
While no one knows the motive behind this murder-suicide… Family members I spoke to over the phone tell me-- Don Spirit wasn't quite the same man after accidentally shooting and killing his son more than a decade ago. Despite the reasons, the community is standing united.
As you drive around in Gilchrest County, you can't help but notice all the signs that read-- "pray for bell."
"We were all very shocked that this could even happen here," said Kimberly Barry an acquaintance of 28-year-old Sarah Spirit, one of those killed on Thursday.
The mass shooting has moved this small community. "We pretty much all have to be there for each other. I mean the whole family is grieving. They didn't just lose a sister or a girlfriend. They've lost their whole family. They lost their children, their nieces, their nephews all in just an hour or a little bit of time," Barry said.
Delores Mauldin sits out here in the middle of Bell to sell vegetables every Thursday and Friday. She's a long time resident of Bell who has never witnessed such a tragedy. "It saddened me that something like that went on because there are so many people that would have took those children… And we don't know why he does something like that," Mauldin said.
During Bell High School's football game against Trenton high Friday night, everyone no matter the team-- is asked to wear white; white to represent peace and innocence.
"Pray for the family and we have to draw closer together because we have to look out for each other for when something like this happens," Mauldin said.
We spoke to extended family over the phone, but they were too distraught to record an interview-- tell us the spirit family has gone through a lot.
Don Spirit had an extensive criminal history. He also served 3 years in prison after killing his 8-year-old son in a hunting accident. His daughter, Sarah Spirit and son Joshua Spirit have been arrested as well.
Mauldin says, no matter what family issues the spirits may have dealt with-- this is the time to re-group and start over. "I've heard that he has other children. Maybe it will draw them closer together-- cause I am from a large family and I know that when something happens we draw close together," said Mauldin.
There is a website set up to help the family pay for the funeral of the children. Anyone wishing to contribute financially can click here.
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