To the Public:
I am, like most, saddened by the news of the shooting at Theo J. Buell Elementary
School extend my condolences to those affected by this painful event. Please
refer to the artist's
statement for the game's intent. For further questions, please contact
In the press I've been getting lately, I have tried to articulate very clearly
that Columbine was a "wake up call" not just for our society but
for ME in particular as I was once headed down a similar road. I found other
outlets such as filmmaking and theater... unfortunately those like Harris,
Klebold, and apparently one seven year old, did not.
Carefree youth cut down
6-year-old went from Barbie dolls
to national statistic
By Kim Kozlowski and
Ron French The Detroit News
MORRIS TOWNSHIP -- There was a knock-knock joke the two young girls
would tell each other when they were
sharing idle hours at each other's homes.
"Knock, knock," the pixie with
the short dark hair would say.
"Who's there?" answered the girl with the
long blond hair, a smile already spreading across her face, revealing a missing
"Don't cry," Kayla would
say. "It's only a joke."
If only it were still a joke, as it had been
all those days playing games in the house and tag as they ran along the cyclone
fence, swinging as high as they could on that pink swing set, swinging till they
could see past the patched roofs and the Beware Of Dog signs and touch the sky,
holding each other's hands as they spun around and around in the back yard until
they both crumpled laughing onto the warm grass, feeling the ground twirl
Ashley Mallory props her small frame against a fence, as
if the 7-year-old needed it to steady herself in a world again spinning out
"At least I'll be able to see her in heaven," she said.
Her friend's photo was in newspapers across the country. Six-year-old
Kayla Rolland, the former neighbor and recent friend, had ceased to be a companion
front porch tea parties and become instead a statistic in a debate.
"When I saw the picture on the news, I knew it was Kayla and I started to feel
sad," Ashley said. "I'm pretty sure I might just think I'm playing with her
in my head. I don't know why somebody would kill her."
Friends and neighbors Wednesday described a little girl
who played with Barbies and prayed before eating lunch.
"I just saw her
the other day," said William Blake Jr., whose daughter also is a first-grader at
Buell Elementary. "She ran out to me and hugged me and now, poof, she's gone.
"It's just a great grief to lose this baby. She was precious to
Kayla Rolland was a typical
child, occupied with Barbie dolls, silly jokes and playing on her swing set
with her best friend. "She was precious to a lot of people," said a
found love in a family that had only modest means.
She lived in a small
home in a working-class neighborhood, behind a wire mesh fence where three
dogs played. Kayla lived in the home with her mother, her step-father, Mike McQueen,
her sister, Elizabeth, and brother, John. Kayla's biological father, Ricky
Rolland, has not lived with the girl in several years.
Kayla and her
family moved into the house on Princeton Street last spring. The house sold
last year for less than $10,000, according to Genesee County land records.
Children often played
Don Mark, 75, used to see Kayla and
her siblings playing outside, often riding bikes.
"The whole family is
real nice," Mark said. "There ain't nothing that family wouldn't do for
Neighbor Robert Oman had a similar impression.
can't imaging anyone getting in a fight with that little girl," he said.
In many ways, Kayla was the definitive American girl, attending
school regularly, playing kick ball, struggling with her spelling words.
seemed unscarred by the hard-scrabble neighborhood where she lived, where the
home across the street is boarded up and gunshots can sometimes be heard at
Instead of being drawn into the shadowy world that enveloped her
accused 6-year-old killer, Kayla played with Barbies and told knock-knock jokes,
her favorite of which never failed to make her laugh, and probably never again
will make her best friend smile.
"I'll just pray and thank God that I
didn't die," Ashley said.
grieves death of 6-year-old
MORRIS TOWNSHIP -- It was like a horror show on television.
Stunned residents in Mount Morris Township grappled Tuesday
with the realization that a 6-year-old boy, one of their own, had shot another
first-grader to death.
Kayla Rolland, also 6, died a half-hour after the shooting at Buell Elementary
"This is absolutely horrifying," Wanda Brauner said as she
loaded her 3-year-old in a cart at Kmart. "It makes me so scared to send her
"This never seems quite so real on TV," said Earl Clinton, who
was tending to his yard. "It always seems so far away from us in Michigan. I
can't believe it could happen here at an elementary school of all places."
Mount Morris Township has neat neighborhoods with small family homes,
rundown areas with stores that have barred windows and affluent condominiums.
"I moved out here because I'd thought it'd be safer for
my grandkids," said Katherine Sutton, who has lived in the area for five years.
"I thought things would be better, but I see it's not."
The township of
about 25,000 people is a 32-1/2-square-mile community adjacent to Flint's north
side. Flint is a gritty industrial city of 132,000 that was the birthplace of
General Motors Corp.
The Beecher Community School District covering
Buell Elementary has more than half its students living in poverty, according
federal estimates. The school itself has 500 pupils.
"This community has
its problems, but this is something else," said salesman John Williams as he
pumped gas at Fleck's Mart. "People are truly grieving for that poor little
Debra Jones, who said she is a friend of Kayla's parents, went to
the family's home after learning of the shooting.
"She smiled all the
time. she was just a sweet, sweet little girl," Jones said, tears rolling down
her cheeks. She said Kayla loved the TV character Barney.
Jana Nicks, 6,
said she and Kayla were friends and liked to play duck-duck-goose and freeze tag
in recess. "She was real nice and laughed a lot," said Jana, who was in a
separate first-grade class.
Classes today were canceled, but the school
will be open for anyone in the community who wants counseling. Flowers and
stuffed animals were left at the front door of the school. A sign over the door
reads: "We (love) our children and we care for their safety."
resident Dee Dee Coates wondered how the 6-year-old had obtained a gun. Township
supervisor Larry Foster and others said many people in the community own guns,
but no more than in other parts of the country.
"We're very saddened by
what happened here," Foster said. "It's going to be an everlasting scar, but
think you will find the community will come together in this time of crisis."
Terry Ivey, an unemployed father of three, said gun owners
have to be
more responsible for preventing violence.
"What kind of parent doesn't
lock up their guns away from their babies?" he asked. "This will never stop if
folks don't treat guns like the serious killing weapons they can be."
Ivey's wife, Angela, said she was praying for the families of the
"I can't imagine how they must be feeling to know their little boy took
somebody else's life," she said. "I can't imagine which family is feeling
Donations and condolences for the girl's family may be sent to:
The Kayla Rolland Fund
c/o Calvary Assembly of God Church
Checks should be made payable to Calvary
Assembly of God Church and the
phrase "Veronica McQueen Fund" must appear in the memo line. Veronica McQueen
is Kayla's mother. The church said the family will use the money however it sees
Kayla's Story Alive E-mail this site to everyone on your list