Just hours after Daniel Gabriel Smith was killed Thursday in a shooting incident, a memorial was placed in front of the Easley High School student's home.
Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan said Daniel and his mother, Sandra Smith, were killed by Sandra's husband William Thomas, who then turned the gun upon himself Thursday night.
Daniel was a ninth-grade student at Easley High School, a member of the wrestling team, and the JV Football team. Daniel had competed in Easley JV team's game against Seneca High School on Thursday night.
“Please remember the EHS family as we deal with the tragic death of one of our student athletes," Principal Tim Mullis said. "The loss of life is always tough, but it is extremely difficult when it involves a young person. Daniel will be missed in the classroom and on the playing fields.”
The memorial was comprised of a sign with Daniel's number, No. 51, flowers and a football helmet. The sign and helmet both were covered in signatures from Daniel's teammates and classmates.
“Keep your head up in paradise,” read one.
“I'm going to miss you sooooo much,” read another.
Daniel's teammate Garrett Styles came out to sign the memorial Friday afternoon.
“We took Tae Kwon Do together,” Styles said.
The two also played on the football team together.
“He was a real protective of me,” Styles said. “I was the quarterback and he was a lineman, so he wouldn't let nothing happen to me. He was a great person. He loved everybody and had a really great heart. He kept a great mindset. He just always kept his head up and never quit.”
“Good Game,” was Coach Andrew Appenheimer's message to Daniel.
“He was a great kid,” Appenheimer, who coached Daniel in JV Football, said.
“I met the young man late last spring and he came out for summer conditioning workouts,” Appehneimer said. “I had the privilege of coaching him so far this season. Daniel was very, very concerned with his performance. He always wanted to do his very best. He constantly wanted to know what he could do to get better. He wasn't very often satisfied with his effort or his performance. He always wanted to do better and that's a quality you don't find very often in a young football player.”
Once school officials heard about Daniel's death, they held a team meeting with the varsity and junior varsity players to tell them that their teammate had been killed.
“Coach Smith addressed the team and spoke to them in a very real way, just letting them know that everybody from the district personnel to the administrative team on campus, coaches, guidance counselors, we're all here for them, if they needed anything,” Appenheimer said. “We're a tight-knit family and they can come to us with any concerns or questions.”
Grief counselors are available for students, he said.
Jeff Harris, Daniel's wrestling coach, said Daniel was a “person high on life.”
“He was the kid that always made people laugh,” Harris said. “Daniel wrestled last year in 8th grade and had potential to be in the varsity line up this year as a freshman. Daniel was a hard worker, good kid, and always listened.”
Principal Tim Mullis said, “Please remember the EHS family as we deal with the tragic death of one of our student athletes. The loss of life is always tough, but it is extremely difficult when it involves a young person. Daniel will be missed in the classroom and on the playing fields.”
Teachers remembered Daniel for always coming to class with a smile and said he stood out from the crowd because of his friendliness.