Students and staff at Kipp Ways Academy gathered to remember a mother and daughter killed over the weekend.
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -
More than 200 people gathered at a candlelight vigil Monday night to remember a seventh-grade student who was shot to death Sunday in her southwest Atlanta home.
School leaders at Kipp Ways Academy put together the vigil held at the northwest Atlanta campus.
Demiya Griffin, 12, and her mother, Shatikey "Teeky" Griffin, 34, were found shot to death Sunday. Police arrested Joseph Smith, 31, after a standoff at the Morrow Lane home, charging him with the murders. Family members of the victim said Griffin was engaged to Smith.
During Monday night's vigil, the crowd sang uplifting songs and prayed as they held candles.
Demiya's teacher Claudine Varela told CBS Atlanta News that she was a model student.
"She was very directed and (had) motivation. She didn't need anyone to encourage her," Varela said.
Police believe that before Smith killed the mother and daughter, he strangled to death another woman, Loveitt Wallace, 36, inside a hotel room in East Point. Police said Smith had been having an affair with Wallace and that they had been celebrating her birthday at the hotel Saturday night.
News of the murders prompted school officials to put together the vigil despite being out on fall break. They knew many students and their parents would be affected by Demiya's death, including classmate Iya Graves.
"We've always been best friends. I just like her because she always listens to me," Iya said.
The seventh-grader shared with CBS Atlanta News her last words with her best friend as they left school for fall break.
"I jumped on top of her and said 'I will miss you,' because we have fall break now. I don't know if she remember(s) it. I really miss her now," Iya said.
Family members also attended the vigil. Demiya's grandfather Thaddeus Griffin grieved but was filled joy from those who came offering love and support.
"It was a great turn out for the whole community, for this family," Thaddeus Griffin said.
School leaders used the tragedy as a teachable moment, telling students to continue to do their best, because no one is promised tomorrow.
Kipp Ways Academy will continue to have grief councilors on hand for the next few days for student needing to talk about the tragedy.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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