Ellis County

Schools Grieve, Services Offered After Three Children Killed in Ellis County

The suspect in the deaths of three children has been identified as their mother, 25-year-old Shamaiya Hall

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Counseling services were offered at an Italy, Texas, school Saturday morning after three school-age children were killed Friday and two others were injured.

“Words cannot express the overwhelming grief felt by the district and the community hearing of such a tragedy,” a statement from Italy ISD read in part. “We are a tight-knit, small community, and as such many students will be impacted by this incident.”

Counselors were available Saturday morning at Stafford Elementary, near the home where police found three children dead Friday afternoon. Counseling services will also be available Monday morning beginning at 10 a.m. at Central Baptist Church’s main campus, according to the Italy ISD.

Sandra Reyes is a licensed professional counselor and said the process to move through the stages of grief with young students might need to be initiated by counselors or teachers.

"It’s important for the teachers and the counselors to help the students process through the tasks of grief," Reyes said. "A really good exercise is to have the students draw a circle and inside the circle write any feeling or thought that comes up when they talk about the loss."

The suspect has been identified as 25-year-old Shamaiya Deyonshana Hall, who family members and neighbors said is the mother of the children killed.

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office has not confirmed Hall as the children’s mother.

On Saturday, a spokesperson said Texas Child Protective Services came to a home on the 300 block of Harris for a home visit Friday. During the visit, a CPS investigator made the decision to remove the children from the home.

“The caseworker then called the Ellis County sheriff 911 dispatch at approximately 4 p.m.,” according to Deputy Jerry Cozby.

Police arrived shortly after and found five children critically injured children inside the home. A 6-year-old boy and a 5-year-old twin boy and girl were dead. Two other children in the house, a 4-year-old boy and a 13-month-old girl were seriously hurt. Both were rushed to hospitals in Fort Worth and Dallas.

Police have not released specific details on the home visit or how the three children died.

Hall was transported to the Wayne McCollum Detention Center, where she has been charged with three counts of capital murder. Two additional first-degree felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon/family violence were added Wednesday. She is held on bonds totaling $10 million, or $2 million for each charge.

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigating agency on this case, with assistance from the Texas Rangers.

The outpouring of support for those children and for Italy ISD has been reflected in social media posts this weekend from area districts encouraging their students to wear black and gold Monday.

A small gesture that Reyes adds is a meaningful part of processing grief too.

"We're talking about a person who had a life and had feelings and so just acknowledging and saying the name is very healing," Reyes said. "So, the other things they’re doing, like wearing the colors in support – it is very beneficial."

Reyes said after counselors or teachers close the discussion regarding the loss and grief, that it is important to remind anyone, especially young students, to come back to the present moment.

"After you close the topic of what's happened it's important to remind them that they are safe - that this is a very unfortunate situation, however, they are safe," Reyes said.

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