After “a gaping hole has been left in our family,” the family of a 12-year-old boy killed in the Bloomfield Hills school shooting is paying a silent tribute to him.
Bloomfield Hills Public Schools District announced Friday night that Justin Shilling was the 11th student killed by a 13-year-old student who killed himself in a classroom on Wednesday.
At a Friday evening vigil, the Shilling family left a note. Parents and family members wiped tears from their eyes as they held candles, teal T-shirts that read “In loving memory of Justin Shilling” and balloons with Justin’s initials.
Shilling was a math student and a celebrated member of his school’s Ultimate Frisbee team.
“He loved sports, especially Ultimate Frisbee,” his aunt, Cynthia Reuttner, told WWJ-TV in Detroit. “Justin was so funny, so charismatic and everybody liked him.”
Classmates told the station that Shilling had a brother and two sisters. The extended family of the Shilling kids only has one parent, other than Justin’s mother.
“It’s always been a big family. They don’t have any other family,” her cousin, Vanessa Little, told WWJ. “His brother, I thought, was a senior already. I was hoping that he would have kept up with them. And it’s just tragic. Nobody prepared us for anything like this.”
Earlier in the day, family members helped pack up a house in Saginaw Township where they had been staying as they awaited word on their loved one.
“It’s a big hole in our hearts,” the boy’s father, Douglas Shilling, told WWJ. “He’s the youngest of four brothers and he was an outstanding, caring young man.”
“It’s been rough,” he said. “It’s a long road. It’s just a heartbreaking loss. The distance he would go for a Friday night game. It’s a testament to how sweet, caring he was.”
“Justin Shilling was a lovable young man with a kind and gentle heart,” Bishop Alfred Schlert said in a statement released by the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw. “He was eager to participate in life. The young man was in the youngest of four brothers. We are deeply saddened at the loss of Justin Shilling.”
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