A grim march into the holiday season
December 6, 1997
Web posted at: 9:54 p.m. EST (0254 GMT)
PADUCAH, Kentucky (CNN) -- The holidays in this close-knit region promise to be as somber as the Christmas parade was Saturday.
The Heath High School band carried white roses and marched to the beat of a single drum in honor of the three girls gunned down last Monday in the school lobby in West Paducah.
Roger Hayes, the band leader, said marching "was the kids' idea."
"They wanted to do this. I thought earlier in the week we just wouldn't march, but they wanted to.
"I think this is the way for healing for them. I think it is for our community, for our high school. It is just to show we will recover from this we're going to make it, we're going to be all right."
Michael Carneal, a 14-year-old freshman who was also a band member, is charged in the shootings. Five other students were wounded in the gunfire -- one of them is paralyzed from the waist down. They issued a statement saying, in part, that their thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the Carneal family.
Many of the region's residents will feel the impact of this week's events throughout the holidays.
"I don't even know the kids, but I have sat and cried for them," said resident Tracey Sweatt.
A national crisis response team will arrive in the area on Monday to help with the emotional upheaval that is expected to come in the weeks ahead.
"It's not unusual for individuals in any community like this to be feeling overwhelmed with rage, terror, confusion and frustration," said Marlene Young, who leads the National Association for Victim Assistance.
Police in McCracken County are spending the weekend going over notes from interviews conducted with more than 50 witnesses to the shooting.
President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, paid tribute to the girls who died, and announced plans for a federal report on school violence.
National Correspondent John Holliman and Reuters contributed to this report.