Jacob Hall’s family called him their little super hero.
The bubbly, sandy haired 6-year-old with a contagious smile and helpful spirit conquered life wearing the t-shirts of his own favorite superheroes.
On Saturday, surrounded by family and covered in his hospital bed by a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blanket, Hall died from injuries suffered when he was shot in the leg as he walked outside to play at Townville Elementary School in Anderson County on Wednesday.
His brother Gerald Gambrell called Hall his hero.
"God took his strongest soldier,” Gambrell said in a public Facebook post.
If Hall was a Teen-Titans-t-shirt-wearing superhero, then his superpower was love, according to his parents, Renae and Rodger Hall.
“Jacob was sent to this Earth for this short a period of time to show us that there is such a thing as pure love,” they said in a statement.
Hall, a first-grader at Townville Elementary, died at 12:56 p.m., Saturday, Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said.
He’d fought for his life since the moment a bullet fired from a pistol severed his femoral artery and caused massive blood loss, his doctor said.
A teenager has been charged with shooting Hall.
A school nurse and the town’s fire chief tended to Hall until he could be flown by helicopter to Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital, where he underwent surgery and a number of procedures, but was placed on life support.
He died surrounded by family and friends six years and four months after he changed his parents’ lives, they said.
“He showed us how to love, laugh and smile even on days we did not want to,” they said. “God gave him to us and he was taken away from us by a senseless act. We know that Jacob has already forgiven this child for what he did to him and his family because that's the kind of child he was.
In a statement released by the hospital system, the Halls said, “Jacob is in heaven with God now,” according to the statement. “Words cannot express how much we will miss him.
“We want to express our thanks and appreciation to the community for the outpouring of love and support. We also want to thank the doctors and nurses at GHS Children’s Hospital, who did everything in their power to try to save Jacob, and to Ms. Hollingsworth, who put her life on the line to try to protect and save Jacob. We also want to thank Preacher Blizzard and the staff of Oakdale Baptist Church, the Townville Rescue Squad, Townville Fire Department, Fire Chief Billy McAdams and all of the first responders. This is an extremely difficult time for our family, and we ask for privacy as we continue to grieve the loss of our beloved son. Funeral arrangements will be shared on Monday.”
Hall was shot as he and other students exited a door onto a playground at Townville Elementary School at about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. Another student was shot in the foot and Hollingsworth was shot in the shoulder. They were treated and released from an Anderson hospital.
In the hours after the shooting, Hall’s heart stopped twice and he was revived both times. He underwent surgery and procedures to stabilize him but was placed on life support, his family said.
“Jacob was a tremendous fighter but was unable to overcome the catastrophic blood loss and resulting cardiopulmonary arrest caused when the bullet hit his femoral artery,” Dr. Keith Webb, Hall's physician at Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital, said in a statement Saturday. “We grieve for the loss of this little boy and pray for his family as they work through this extraordinarily difficult time.”
A14-year-old who lives in Townville is accused of killing his father, Jeffrey Osborne, at their home before driving to the school, crashing a black pickup truck into a fence, and opening fire as students exited the school building to play on the playground, authorities have said. (The State does not name juveniles who have been charged with a crime.) The boy had an initial court appearance Friday and was charged with with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Once the autopsy has been completed to show an official cause of death, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and the 10th Circuit Solicitor’s Office plan to petition the court to have the alleged shooter’s attempted murder charge for Hall upgraded to murder, said Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper.
Hall was described by family as intelligent and helpful, a “God-fearing” child who attended church regularly at Oakdale Baptist Church in Townville, the only place he’d known as home.
With dark-rimmed glasses that matched his intelligence and a near-constant smile, Hall was a joy to be around, friends and family said.
Carolyn Blizzard, whose husband, David, is senior pastor at Oakdale, said Jacob was involved in all the children's activities at the church, and that he also attended Good News Club, an after-school, Bible-based program. Blizzard said Jacob's family has talked repeatedly about his faith and their own during the past few days.
"Jacob was a little boy of such strong faith," Carolyn Blizzard said. "He was funny and bright and just a little sponge, absorbing everything around him.
"Jacob would want to tell them to forgive," Blizzard said.
Gov. Nikki Haley, who visited Hall and his parents in the hospital Wednesday evening, said in a statement that Jacob was a smart, beautiful boy with a contagious smile and strong faith.
“A beloved son and brother, Jacob will be missed but never forgotten,” Haley said. “Our hearts are broken for Jacob's family. Please join Michael and me in lifting them up in prayer during this challenging time."
Anderson School District 4, which includes Townville Elementary, said in a statement that “Jacob is an innocent victim of an unexplainable act of violence that occurred while he was on his way to the school playground Wednesday afternoon. Jacob was a delightful child who was full of joy and beloved by his family, friends and all at Townville Elementary School. Despite a strong fight these past few days, his life was cut short by this tragedy that cannot be explained or easily understood. Jacob will not be forgotten. We grieve for his parents and his family. We will wrap our arms around his teacher, his friends and his classmates.”
The district said it would continue to provide love and support to all of its schools and the community.
“We need each other; we cannot get through this alone,” the district said.
Tom Dobbins, chairman of the District 4 board of trustees, said the district would support the family in any way it could.
Hall’s death is going to be difficult for the teachers, staff and students at Townville Elementary, which is why the district has decided to wait until Thursday to resume classes to give them time to grieve, Dobbins said.
"It is just a tragedy," said Dobbins, who attended Oakdale Baptist along with Hall. "He was a fun-loving little boy who was full of life.
"It is sad that society has come to do this," he said.
Sunday events related to the Townville Elementary School shooting
10 a.m.-3 p.m., The Blood Connection will host a blood drive at Townville Fire Department, 8508 Highway 24 and will also collect teddy bears for students at Townville Elementary School
12:30-2:30 p.m. – Viewing for Jeffrey Osborne at Oakdale Baptist Church in Townville
3 p.m. - Funeral for Jeffrey Osborne at Oakdale.
6 p.m. – community-wide service at Oakdale