S. C. town mourns school shooting losses with funeral, blood drive

TOWNVILLE, S.C. — In the days after a shooting at an elementary school rocked this rural Anderson County town, residents used social media and community signs to show the world they intend to remain #TownvilleStrong.

They quickly proved those words are not empty.

The response to a blood drive honoring Jacob Hall, a 6-year-old Townville Elementary School student who was shot, was so large Sunday that additional workers from The Blood Connection had to be called to handle the crowd of willing donors.

Jacob died Saturday afternoon of his injuries, but officials at the Townville fire station decided to go ahead with the blood drive anyway, hoping it would be a small step toward healing a community.

"The response from the community has been overwhelming," Fire Chief Billy McAdams said.

Some of his volunteer firefighters directed traffic around the fire station where the blood drive was held, as dozens waited to roll up their sleeves.

"It's a way for everybody to come together," said Becky Bayne, who drove to Townville from Easley.

Some drove to the fire station just to add to the stack of teddy bears. The stuffed toys will be given to Townville Elementary School students.

A teenager stands accused in the shooting, which happened Wednesday afternoon.

Jesse Osborne, 14, of Townville, had his detention hearing Friday. He is accused of killing his father, Jeffrey Osborne, before heading toward the elementary school and opening fire.

Jesse Osborne was charged Friday with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Since Jacob's death, one of those attempted murder charges is expected to be upgraded to murder.

Another 6-year-old student and a first-grade teacher, Meghan Hollingsworth, were wounded during the assault. They were both released from AnMed Health Medical Center on the day of the shooting.

Before the shooting a few days ago, this town dotted with farms and fields was best known for an annual tractor festival at the elementary school. Now, the permanent sign that advertises the festival is overshadowed by a growing memorial for Jacob.

"We're all just numb," Sherrie Cowan said as she left the Townville Cafe on Sunday. "I have lived here for 28 years after moving from California. I never in a million years would have thought this could happen in my town."

Cowan's grandson, 9-year-old Cameron Rush, was at the school Wednesday during the shooting.

"My  ex-daughter-in-law called me crying," Cowan said. "At first, she didn't know where he was."

Cameron escaped physically unharmed, but now he's having trouble sleeping, his grandmother said.

He has had at least one therapy session, she said.

"This is a terrible thing, but I know this town will rally," Cowan said. "I know it will."

Cowan said her son's girlfriend has a son in first grade who witnessed the entire shooting.

"He had to give a statement to police and everything," she said. "No little boy should have to do that."

He's been to therapy, too, she said.

Cowan said she also feels sorry for Tiffney Osborne, who is the mother of Jesse and the widow of Jeffrey Osborne.

"That poor woman," Cowan said. "She has lost her husband and now her son, too."

A funeral for Jeffrey Osborne was held Sunday afternoon at Oakdale Baptist Church. Outside the service, a church sign flashed with the message, "Pray for T.E.S."

This evening, residents will gather at the same church in Townville for a service centered on praying for everyone affected by the shooting.

Churches all over Townville bear messages about prayer in the wake of tragedy.

Funeral services for Jacob will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday at Oakdale Baptist, according to his obituary. A public visitation also will be held at the Townville church 5-9 p.m. Tuesday. As Jacob was a big fan of comic book superheroes, the obituary noted that the public is welcome to wear their favorite superhero costume or shirt to the visitation.

Kathy Rice, a weekend cashier at the Townville Cafe, said she could barely talk about the shooting and losing Jacob.

"We're all just devastated," she said as tears filled her eyes. "There aren't words."

Contributing: Romando Dixson of The Greenville (S.C.) News.


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