A mourning father videotaped his daughter’s memorial at a Henderson park late Friday night as candlelight pushed back the darkness that was dotted by balloons.
The girl’s grandmother looked on, hugging tearful friends who told her how sorry they were.
There wasn’t a dry eye at Desert Bloom Park, where Schofield Middle School students came to say goodbye to Brooklynn Mohler, 13, a seventh-grader who was accidentally shot in a friend’s house in south Las Vegas on Tuesday afternoon, apparently by one of her friends.
Las Vegas police have released few details of what occurred inside the residence, but the death has shaken the surrounding community.
No criminal charges have been filed in Mohler’s death, which is being called a “tragic accident.”
Police have said the gun was kept in a safe place and wasn’t left in the open.
While funeral arrangements for Mohler have not been announced, the girl was remembered by her friends as a dedicated gymnast and a girl who was always upbeat.
“I saw her at a birthday party the night before she was shot, but I had no way of knowing it was going to be the last time,” said tearful grandmother Linda Ruby, standing by the stoic father.
Her words trailed off as more children came up to her to hug her.
A few balloons popped in the night the air.
The father kept filming.
Shea Swan, 13, a Schofield student, came up with the idea of having the memorial. She announced it on Facebook.
More than 100 people came.
Shea got the idea of releasing the balloons into the air from her mother, Stacie Swan.
“Let’s release balloons so that Brooklyn will have something to hang on to,” Stacie Swan said in a brief speech to the crowd. “I’m not going to speak on behalf of the family, but we all know that Brooklynn was very special, and let’s remember that smile of hers.”
The candles together shaped a heart.
Three gymnasts who taught Mohler everything she knew at Gym Cats, a gymnastic league in Henderson, were overcome with grief, having just seen her a couple of days before she died.
“I told her she was just about to reach the next level, that all she had to learn was a back walkover,” said Brittany Millar, 26. “Boy, did she love gymnastics. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do.”
Brittany Zachary, 22, and Ryen Lamb, 19, both agreed.
“That’s the reason why we coach,” said Zachary. “Because of great girls like her.”
A few of the parents whose children either attended the middle school or competed in the same gymnastics league also came.
Andy Jensen looked on and shook his head several times.
“I grew up with a lot of guns in the house, and we were always taught from the very beginning that they were dangerous, that we weren’t to touch them, that we weren’t to play with them,” he said about growing up in Michigan.
“Parents have got to lock them up. And even when they lock them up, the children have got to be taught that they are NOT to be played with.”
Contact reporter Tom Ragan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512.