‘We Need to Be the Last Group This Ever Happens To': Great Mills HS Students Honor Slain Classmate at March for Our Lives

Just days after losing one of their classmates, students and alumni of Great Mills High School in Maryland felt determined to attend Saturday's March for Our Lives.

The group sought to honor the memory of their classmate, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey.

Willey was in the hallway of Great Mills High School in Saint Mary's County on Tuesday morning when police say Austin Rollins pointed a semi-automatic handgun at her and fired. She died Thursday night after her parents announced they had decided to remove her from life support. 

"My daughter was hurt by a boy who shot her in the head... and took everything from our lives," Willey's mother, Melissa Willey, said at a news conference that evening.

It's been just four days since violence rocked their small community. But on Saturday, members of the Great Mills community gathered early, and eager, first taking a bus ride and then the Metro. 

"This is the start of their healing. Pretty simple," said Great Mills football coach Aaron Foreman.

Support came from coaches and parents, but the students took the lead, with dozens of Great Mills students joining the crowd of thousands.

"I think it's really pushing everybody in our community to come together and make sure we can do everything in our power to have our voice heard," said recent Great Mills graduate Mariha Robinson.

"It's bittersweet considering the circumstances why we're here, but honestly, it's an awesome feeling just to be here right now, just with a group of us," said recent graduate Newell Rand. "It's really heart-touching to feel that we're all together as one; we're not bickering; we're putting our differences aside."

"We need to be the last group this ever happens to, and we're all just very tight, and we're family, and as you can see in the chants, we are Great Mills," said Heidi Ransford, also a recent graduate. All three knew Willey.

Another student, 14-year-old Desmond Barnes, was wounded during Tuesday's shooting. He has been released from the hospital. 

"Our entire family is eternally grateful that Desmond is alive, doing well and in good spirits," Barnes' family said in a statement Thursday night. 

Rollins died after an exchange of gunfire with a school resource officer, although it wasn't clear if he was killed by the officer's shot.

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