Jaelynn Willey, The Maryland School Shooting Victim, Has Died After Being Taken Off Life Support
On Thursday, the parents of the victim of this week's school shooting in Maryland said that they were taking their daughter, Jaelynn Willey, off life support. On Friday, the local sheriff's office confirmed that Willey had died. The 16-year-old had been in critical condition since she was shot in the head on Tuesday.
Saying that their daughter had "no life left in her," her parents explained that they would have to terminate her support that evening. The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office later announced that she had died, surrounded by family, at 11:34 p.m. ET.
"On Tuesday of this past week, our lives changed completely and totally forever," Melissa Willey, Jaelynn's mother, told the press on Thursday. "My daughter was hurt by a boy who shot her in the head and took everything from our lives."
"As of now, Jaelynn is still on life support," her mother continued, "but she will not make it. We will be taking her off life support this evening. She is brain-dead and has nothing left. No life left in her. I felt like, as her mom, that I needed to make that statement to everybody. ... I felt like it was our place — my and my husband's — to make that statement."
Jaelynn was shot in the hallway of Great Mills High School just before 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when classes were about to start. The shooter was a student who had been in "a prior relationship that recently ended" with Jaelynn, according to the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office. Using a semiautomatic handgun, he shot Jaelynn in the head and 14-year-old Desmond Barnes in the thigh. A school resource officer quickly confronted the shooter and shot him dead.
Desmond's injuries were not serious, and he was discharged from the hospital Wednesday. Jaelynn, however, was taken to the hospital in critical condition and remained there until her parents took her off life support on Thursday.
Late on Wednesday, as Winter Storm Toby was still hitting the Northeast, an update on Jaelynn's condition was posted on a crowdfunding page for her medical expenses. "Jaelynn loves the snow," a wrote Lucinda Irvine Avis, a family friend of the Willey's who created the page. "I wish that she had been home today to sled with her little siblings. Instead it's been 36 hours of being in critical condition after she was shot at her high school, a place that should be safe."
Jaelynn was the second-oldest of nine children in the family. She spent much of her time looking after her younger siblings and swimming on the Great Mills High School swim team. Her family describes her as a extraordinarily kind and caring girl.
Timothy Cormier, Jaelynn's uncle, told CNN that his niece was as "an amazing young lady, whose peaceful presence and love of her fellow students and family is known throughout her Maryland-based school." He added, "It is hard for us not to see her shining, smiling face right now, and to see her light up the room with her presence."
Jaelynn's death comes a week after 1 million students walked out of schools around the country to demand gun reform and days before hundreds of March for Our Lives rallies are set to take place nationally on Saturday. These demonstrations were initiated by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the school in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people last month.
"Not one more," reads the march's mission statement, published before Jaelynn's death. "We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school."
The crowdfunding page for the Willey family's medical expenses had raised over 75 percent of its $100,000 goal as of Friday morning. You can donate to the fund here.