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(Baton Rouge, LA - WAFB) Jennie Williams, the mother of accused shooter, Latina Williams, released a statement Saturday through the Baton Rouge Police Department. The family requests that the media respect their privacy and not contact them during this difficult time. The statement follows:
"We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of Karsheika Graves and Tanieshia Butler. Our hearts go out to all of you.
In this tragedy, just like you, we have many questions but no answers. As Latina's mother, I will not try to rationalize or make excuses for her action. It was wrong.
I know nothing I can say will make this situation any better, but I am so very sorry for your pain and loss. I pray God will give you strength to come through this.
I will be haunted to the end of my days by what my child has done."
There will be a candlelight memorial vigil to honor the victims of the shooting. It is scheduled for Sunday evening at 5:15. Click here for more information
Baton Rouge police say Williams killed two female students in a classroom at a vo-tech college Friday, then killed herself. Police identified the victims as Karsheika Graves, age 21, and Tanieshia-Deanna Butler, age 26. Investigators identified the shooter as Latina Williams, age 23. Sergeant Don Kelly with Baton Rouge police says all three were students at the Louisiana Technical College campus. The shooter's family lives in Mississippi. Baton Rouge police visited with them Friday night, trying to figure out what might have led Latina Williams to open fire. Funeral arrangements for the victims are still pending.
9NEWS spoke with the family of Karsheika Graves. The tight-knit group believes Karsheika Graves will always be with them. "She was a beautiful person. Humble, kind, patient, never said an ill word about anyone," says Karlyn Leblanc, Karsheika's aunt. Her family is baffled. They have no idea why someone would shoot and kill the artistic mother of two. Graves was a painter, and on her way to becoming a nurse. Family members say in December, she would have graduated from Louisiana Technical College. "She had two babies but she wasn't going to let that stop her. And that's what I admired about her," Leblanc says. She also says coroners tell her Graves' body was found with a pencil in her hand, a strong indication of the kind of dedicated student she was. Graves was the mother of a one-year-old and a five-month-old baby. Funeral arrangements for the victims are still pending.
The family of Tanieshia Butler was kind enough to invite 9NEWS to their home to share Tanieshia's life. Butler was shot to death Friday morning while just simply sitting in a nursing class. "I am in disbelief. Until I actually see her face, I just don't believe. Right now, I don't believe it," Ernest Butler says. Tanieshia's husband is having a hard time staying strong, but he says he has to. "Right now, I am trying to pull it together for the kids, trying to get them through this." The couple's three children are 4, 9, and 12 years old. Tanieshia worked hard to put herself through school so that she could give her children a better life. Now, her mother wants to know how she's supposed to encourage Tanieshia's children to go to school. "You don't want to live out your kids, you are supposed to be able to go to school. It's supposed to be a safe place to go," says Bobbie Landry. Tanieshia's mother says she doesn't why the shooter chose her daughter, but she does have a message for the family. "Out of your hands once they grow up. I pray for you. I'm sorry for your loss." This family hopes whatever you take away from this that you learn from their lesson. "We've got little ones. You are preaching to them, teaching them to go to school and now, how are we supposed to tell them this, if they fear their lives how can you send them." Friday morning, Tanieshia's sister, Tont, was also at the college. She was across the hall, in another classroom. She heard the shots fired. Students and faculty at the school were kept on lockdown for nearly four hours as police interviewed witnesses to the classroom killings.
Young people called their parents from the Louisiana Technical College Friday morning, pleading for them to call 911. The school is located on Airline Highway at Winbourne Avenue. The investigation continues into why anyone would shoot and kill innocent school mates. Here is what we do know:
At 8:36, phone calls started pouring into Baton Rouge police from students inside the classroom building where the shots were fired.
At 8:37, police were on their way to the campus to investigate the complaints.
By 8:40, officers were entering the building, not knowing if the shooting was over or if someone with a gun was still roaming the halls.
"This is a situation where you have to analyze everything that goes on. There was nobody virtually that could have stopped, I believe, what happened today, absent checking everybody as they came into the building. But besides that, it's a sad commentary when you have young people who are here to be educated at a great institution. And yet, they are gunned down and become innocent victims of violence at school. So to those families, to parents, to other people in the community, relatives of these individuals on both sides, this is a tragic day for Baton Rouge, it's a tragic day for the nation," Mayor Kip Holden says.
The campus will remain closed until next Wednesday, February 13th. However, school officials say that may change, depending on funeral arrangements. LTC officials will meet with faculty and staff on Tuesday to help prepare them to work with students once they return to class. The school says ICare counselors are currently on-site providing support for students, faculty, staff, and family members. If you feel you need help processing the emotional effects of the killings at Louisiana Technical College, call Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention at 924-3900.