Tulsa Students Deal With Classmate's Death

Monday, September 28th 2009, 8:04 am
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - Students returned Monday morning to Memorial High School, two days after a freshman was gunned down after stepping off a school bus on his way home.

Grief counselors were at the school to help students and staff cope with their loss.

Jacob Barnes, 16, was shot and killed Friday afternoon as he walked to his mom's house with his 14-year-old sister.

9/25/2009 Related story: Tulsa Teen Shot After Getting Off School Bus Dies

"I'm in shock. I'm just like, he's gone, and he's not going to come back," said Chasity Starks, Barnes' classmate.

Barnes was just two blocks away from his mother's house in North Tulsa when he was shot three times. Police say the drive-by shooting was gang related. Barnes' family says he was never involved with gangs.

"I never seen him sad, never seen him down. He always managed to put that big ‘ol pretty smile on his face," said Carla Mackey, Barnes' aunt.

9/26/2009 Related story: Tulsa Woman Speaks Out On Nephew's Death

Tulsa Public Schools mobilized a crisis intervention team over the weekend. Grief counselors and Tulsa Public Schools administrators were at the school to help any student overcome with grief. Students like Chasity Starks, who had first period biology with Jacob Barnes.

"He had a very nice personality. He was just a very good person, with a very nice personality," said Chasity Starks. "He was very popular, and he was, like, very smart, very smart."

To Starks, Barnes was more than a classmate, he was a friend. She says getting ready for school was very difficult.

"I'm about to go to first period and he's just not going to be there. You know, it's just like, wow, he's gone. He's gone and he's not going to come back," said Chasity Starks.

Barnes family, friends and classmates all remember his smile -- a smile they say had just begun to light the hallways at Memorial High. A smile, Starks says she will miss.

Statement from Tulsa Public Schools:

Tulsa Public Schools learned of the tragic death of one of its students Friday evening. According to police, 16-year-old Jacob Barnes was walking away from a school bus stop near the 900 block of E. 33rd St. N. when a gunman in a passing vehicle shot him numerous times. The Memorial High School freshman was transported in critical condition to a Tulsa hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

No parent, grandparent, sibling, teacher or friend should have to endure the sudden, senseless death of a child. Our hearts and prayers go out to the boy's family as they mourn his passing.

The district has mobilized a crisis intervention team of counselors and administrators to assist students and staff who are impacted by this senseless tragedy. The team will meet privately over the weekend to develop a plan for reaching out to those experiencing symptoms of traumatic grief.

Parents and caregivers should watch for the following signs a child might need professional guidance through the grieving process:

  • Preoccupation with the person who died
  • Recurrent intrusive thoughts, memories or images of the deceased
  • Intense painful emotions or sadness
  • Irritability, bitterness or anger related to the death
  • Persistent feelings of being stunned, dazed or shocked
  • Social Withdrawal, avoidance of activities or social gatherings
  • Purposelessness - feelings of futility about the future