Murder victim’s father describes the “gaping hole” left in his family. “It will never, ever heal. Nothing will ever get close to the gaping hole we have in our hearts.”
The family of 17-year-old Justin Shilling released a statement to the media on Thursday, following a deadly school shooting in an east Michigan high school.
Justin Shilling’s mother, Lana, said her son’s “life was tragically cut short by an evil shooter”. Her family said she was “understandably distraught” and was in great pain.
Justin’s father, Mark, who has been mayor of his hometown of Grand Rapids for 30 years, described how Justin had kept family, friends and schoolmates from facing evil, and said “his energy and love for the lives around him touched the lives of many”.
Mark Shilling’s statement said: “He was the most gentle person I have ever known. He was a great, caring, and intelligent son.
“I am thankful for his role in helping me take the helm of the city of Grand Rapids for the last 30 years. This city will never, ever, ever forget Justin.”
The couple said they had recently given Shilling his first car, a Subaru Outback Crosstrek, and were looking forward to helping him “progress further with his life”.
Mark Shilling said: “Like all other Michigan citizens I am sure, I am still in shock and disbelief about this incident. Justin and his family are an inspiration to all those who knew and loved him. He was truly a loving, caring and intelligent young man.”
Mark Shilling is a former president of the grand river cluster of local chambers of commerce, and former chairman of the board of directors of the Citizens’ Chamber of Commerce, a local nonprofit economic development organization.
The family also released a statement from Justin’s brother Austin: “Justin was the light of our lives. He was very sweet and loved everybody. He was more of a quiet type but he loved his friends and family.”
Austin Shilling, who grew up with Justin in Grand Rapids, wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday night: “By now I am sure you all have heard the tragic news in Grand Rapids, I am not posting any more sadly at this time but want to let you know, Justin’s mother is truly in great pain. I am not strong enough to talk right now but in our hearts, we are so very sorry. Our family will miss Justin dearly.”
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to let me know of your support and condolences. I just want everyone to know, that’s it is a blessing no family should ever have to go through and no child should ever be taken away from this earth.
“Thank you for your love and prayers.”
Justin Shilling, a ninth-grader at Grand Rapids North High School, was one of two students killed in an incident on Thursday morning, according to authorities. Police said they found two students, 16-year-old Abdullah American-Almosayee and 17-year-old Justin Shilling, dead from gunshot wounds at the school on Thursday morning. A 16-year-old classmate, Mason Cole, is accused of fatally shooting the two students.
On Thursday, the FBI and multiple law enforcement agencies in Michigan set up an investigation of the shooting. More than 250 police officers were involved in the investigation, according to The Detroit News.
Abdullah and Justin Shilling would have been seniors at North High in 2019.