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 me here.

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

    MT. 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 front tooth.
   "Boo who?"
   "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 beneath them.
   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 of control.
   "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 for 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."
   Prayers before lunch
   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 a lot of people."

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 neighbor

    Kayla 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 anybody."
   Neighbor Robert Oman had a similar impression.
   "I can't imaging anyone getting in a fight with that little girl," he said.
   In many ways, Kayla was the definitive American girl, attending Sunday school regularly, playing kick ball, struggling with her spelling words.
   She 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 night.
   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.




Community grieves death of 6-year-old

MT. 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 School.
   "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 to school."
   "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. There is rural farmland.
   "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 to 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 girl."
   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."
   Like many, 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 I 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 two children.
   "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 worse."

Donations and condolences for the girl's family may be sent to:

The Kayla Rolland Fund
c/o Calvary Assembly of God Church
2518 Delaware St.
Flint 48506

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 fit. .

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