Marshall Strong: Community begins picking up the pieces after tragedy

(AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)

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BENTON, Ky. (WKRN) – From tragedy to hope, Marshall County is picking up the pieces just two days after the violent mass shooting that killed two students and left 18 others injured.

The community is pulling together and Thursday night, they showed they’re Marshall Strong. Over 1,000 students and community members attended a vigil at Mike Miller Park.

“We should have never had to see the things that we saw and be out of school these past few days,” said a Marshall County High School senior who addressed the crowd. “We shouldn’t have to go through this with our friends. But if you wear blue and orange on your back you are part of something greater.”

It all started with a Facebook page called “Marshall Strong,” where anyone could share words and pictures of support. And they did. Posts, pictures and messages of support and love were sent from around the country.
“I can’t begin to tell you the amount of miracles that have taken place and blessings that have come from around the nation and all the prayers that are pouring into our community. That page is a way for us to share that and that event is a way for us to come together and starting healing,” said one of the organizers, Misti Drew.

“Our community is really good at these things. Every tragic event or thing that’s been bad, this is what our people do. This is what Marshall county is–Marshall Strong,” said another organizer, Krystal Denfip.

It was an emotional night of praying and singing. Hundreds of candles illuminated the park. Groups of students held on to each other and cried while different pastors spoke to the crowd asking them to reach out to their higher power and each other during this difficult time.

A statement sent by shooting victim Preston Cole’s parents was read by a family friend to the crowd, as well.

“Preston loved everyone he had no enemies. He was caring compassionate and had the biggest heart. He loved life. He loved his family,” the friend read. “Our hearts go out to the victims and all the students that had to witness this senseless tragedy.”

Then, the crowd joined in a chorus of amazing grace and lit 20 candles in honor of the victims who were shot at the school. Two lanterns were sent into the night sky in honor of Preston Cole and Bailey Holt.

Marshall County said while it has lost a lot, they have gained a stronger sense of community. Each said they were going to get through this, together.

PHOTOS: Shooting at Kentucky high school

Click here for complete coverage of the Marshall County High School shooting.