The fatal shooting of 6-year-old Austin Robertson last week has left the family of Thomson Elementary School deeply saddened.
As a way of showing the family how much little Austin was loved at the school, some of his fellow kindergarten classmates and school teachers prepared art posters to show the Robertson family that they share in their grief. There were even two bundles of balloons tied to the rails near the sidewalk entry of the school.
"We just wanted to do something special to show that we're all family at Thomson Elementary School and that we care deeply about each and every student here," said TES Principal Anita Cummings.
Little Austin, who had just graduated from the kindergarten class of Stephanie Hawkins prior to the summer break, was accidentally shot to death at his grandparent's home off Cedar Rock Road on Thursday, June 12. He and his older brother, a rising second grader at TES, were playing inside their doublewide mobile home when one of them discovered a handgun in the closet of a room. During their play with the loaded gun, it later discharged with a bullet striking Austin in the head.
He died about four hours later at an Augusta hospital.
"I always looked forward to seeing him everyday to make sure he was having a good morning," said Ms. Cummings. "And some mornings, I even greeted him and his brother when their grandmother dropped them off."
The principal described the brothers as being close.
"The brothers were loving towards one another," said Ms. Cummings. "When they saw each other in the hallway, they looked at each other with big smiles."
There was one occasion, recalled Ms. Cummings, where Austin received a reward for having completed a time out.
"As his reward, he just wanted to go by his brother's first grade classroom," she tearfully said. "They hugged each other and he seemed so happy as we walked back to his kindergarten class."
Stephanie Hawkins, who was Austin's kindergarten teacher, said he will be "greatly missed" By the TES family.
"He was a child that dearly loved getting attention," said Mrs. Hawkins. "Whenever I had to run an errand inside the school, Austin always wanted to go. There was a special bond there."
Austin's tragic death has left a void, an empty feeling for those within the TES family.
"As a family here at TES, we're already close," said Ms. Cummings. "Of course, now you get closer. It makes you realize that you can't give enough love. We're here to focus on the heads of students - helping them become knowledgeable from an academic standpoint, but we also focus on their hearts with love and care, too."
McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen, accompanied By Ms. Cummings, TES Asst. Principal Gwen Nipple, and TES teacher Patricia Cummings, visited with members of the Robertson family last Tuesday to express their condolences.
The school has collected various items to present to Austin's family.
Gravesite funeral services were held for Austin at Westview Cemetery in Thomson last Friday.
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