RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A shocked South Richmond community is coming together to mourn the loss of a little boy whose life was cut short while defending his own sister. At Redd Elementary Friday, crisis counselors were on hand as students learned about the death of their classmate, 8-year-old Marty Cobb.
Everyone is having a tough time understanding how someone could be so cruel. People want to know -- why kill an 8-year-old and what will it take for all parties involved to heal?
Parents coming to and from Redd Elementary are simply at a loss for words.
"I was very sad because I was thinking as a mother, how would I feel and what would I do?" said parent Sophia Taylor.
As parents learned, 8-year-old Marty Cobb was beaten to death defending his sister from a sexual assault, the grief hit hard.
"My heart goes out to the family because my kids go here," Taylor said.
Crisis counselors responded to the school Friday.
"If he sat beside a child at lunch, that child is impacted. If he went to art, all of those kids are impacted," said School Board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed.
She adds Marty's classmates aren't the only ones battling emotions, which is why she came.
"To release teachers if they need to go cry. I want to be there to cover the class. I want the principal to close her door and scream and holler. I want to be there holding her," she said.
Child therapist Brian Scholla says Marty's 12-year-old sister will also need counseling.
"With trauma especially experienced at a young age, if it's not treated and not responsive to early intervention, the future is uncertain," Scholla said.
Her battle is two-fold, healing from the sexual assault - and from losing the brother who tried to save her.
"With the unfortunate passing of her brother, you have survivor's guilt as well…why my brother? Why not me, going through that grieving process...This is something that will probably have lasting implications," he said.
Richmond Public Schools released a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our Redd Elementary School students, and extend our thoughts and prayers to the victim's family and friends. Our top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Crisis counselors are currently in place and will continue to be made available to support our Redd Elementary School family and community during this difficult time."
Relatives say both Marty and his older sister attended Redd Elementary School.