Greenville, SC (WLTX) In the aftermath of the shooting at Townville Elementary School on Wednesday, residents and others outside the small community of Townville in Anderson County expressed their determination to rise above the tragedy by proclaiming themselves and their city #TownvilleStrong.
That strength was tested Saturday after news broke that Jacob Hall, a 6-year-old pupil at Townville Elementary, succumbed to his injuries.
Described by Gerald Gambrell, Jacob's brother, as God's "strongest soldier," Jacob incurred a gunshot wound to the leg that struck his femoral artery on Wednesday. Though Jacob's classmate and Townville Elementary teacher Meghan Hollingsworth survived their gunshot wounds, he suffered massive blood loss at the scene that eventually proved too much to overcome.
Still, Townville residents seem determined to remember Jacob as he was described by his family, bubbly and with a contagious smile.
In Jacob's honor, The Blood Connection will play host to a blood drive 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Townville Fire Department, 8508 S.C. 24, and will also collect teddy bears for students at Townville Elementary.
Dozens waited in line Sunday morning to give blood at the fire station.
Though the blood drive initially was organized to benefit Jacob, folks at the fire station decided to go ahead with the event.
"It's a way for everybody to come together," said Becky Bayne, who drove to Townville from Easley.
This evening, Oakdale Baptist Church, 6724 Hwy. 24, Townville, will conduct a community-wide service to memorialize Jacob and offer Townville residents an opportunity to mourn together.
Kathy Rice, a weekend cashier at the Townville café, said she could barely talk about the shooting and losing Jacob
We're all just devastated," she said as tears filled her eyes. "There aren't words."
A teenager stands accused in the shooting. Jesse Osborne, 14, had his detention hearing Friday. He was charged then with one count of murder in the shooting death of his father and three counts of attempted murder at the school. Since Jacob's death, one of those attempted murder charges is expected to be upgraded to murder.
Sherrie Cowan's grandson, 9-year-old Cameron, was at the school Wednesday during the shooting.
"My (former) daughter-in-law called me crying," Cowan said. "At first, she didn't know where he was."
Cameron escaped physically unharmed, but now he's having trouble sleeping, his grandmother said.
In the days since the shooting he has seen a therapist, his grandmother said.
Cowan said her son's girlfriend has a son in first grade who witnessed the entire shooting.
"He had to give a statement to police and everything," she said. "No little boy should have to do that."