March 28, 1998 in Nation/World

Victims Of Ambush Buried Amid Tears And Hugs, Tight-Knit Town Urged To Forgive Killers Of Children, Teacher As Step Toward Healing

Associated Press

Parents hugged their children and youngsters sobbed as two of the students slain in a schoolyard ambush were laid to rest Friday and this tight-knit community struggled to forgive the two boys accused of killing them.

“The healing cannot begin until we forgive,” the Rev. Gary Cremeens told 500 mourners at the funeral of Paige Ann Herring, the first to be buried.

“God did not leave Jonesboro on Tuesday,” said Cremeens at the Farmers Union Funeral Home. “God wants us to be beacons of hope, light and love to a world that needs it so badly.”

Paige turned 12 less than two weeks before being gunned down at the Westside Middle School along with three other students and a teacher.

Nine students and one teacher were wounded.

A funeral for Natalie Brooks, 12, was also held Friday. Stephanie Johnson, 12, Brittany Varner, 11, and teacher Shannon Wright, 32, are to be buried today.

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