Students and parents held vigil in Wilmington Thursday night outside Howard High School of Technology, where a 16-year-old student was fatally injured during an attack inside a bathroom that morning.
The girl, identified Friday by Wilmington Police as Amy Joyner-Francis, a sophomore from New Castle, died while she was transported by state police helicopter to A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Rockland.
Wilmington police said she was assaulted sometime before 8:18 a.m. by multiple students in a bathroom, just before classes were scheduled to begin.
"She was a good person," said Ny'Ashia Backus, a friend of the deceased student and fellow sophmore at Howard.
A makeshift memorial comprised of candles and stuff animals had been formed outside one of the entrances to the school. Hundreds of students and parents gathered in the area, many of them hugging and shedding tears over the death of a classmate.
Tamika Battin, Backus' mother, said the incident had caused her to worry about her daughter's safety at school.
"Kids ain't safe no more. They're supposed to be here to learn," she said.
School administrators said earlier in the day that the incident wasn't reflective of a larger issue at the school and was isolated.
"I want to reinforce to families, the community, friends of the district that this is an unforeseen and unbelievable tragedy for the family, and that...Howard is a safe school for our students," said New Castle County Vocational Technical School District Superintendent Victoria Gehrt.
Still, Tyshaunda Walker, a freshman at Howard, said the incident left her asking how something like this could happen.
"It's very painful. We lost a fellow Wildcat and it's not fair," she said.
Walker's father, Tommy Boyd, said he was initially shocked when the incident happened and wished the altercation could have been resolved.
"It probably could have been resolved if it was brought to staff attention or something like that," he said.
Police said earlier in the day that two students were being questioned in relation to the assault. No updates on the case were available Thursday night.
City Councilman Nnamdi Chukwoucha was saddened by the the girl's death and felt it should bring parents, educators and other community stakeholders together to ensure that adequate resources are available to help the development of young people.
Skills like conflict resolution need to be taught to more children, particularly to those living or going to school in the city, he said.
"How do we show them that they're valued? How do we help them address the horrors that they see everyday? We don't. We haven't," he said.
Howard was expected to operate on a shortened schedule on Friday, because of the incident.
Backus said it would be difficult to return to classes, but she and friends had already decided on a way to keep the memory of their classmate close to their heart.
"We were talking about graduation and how we were going to graduate for her and do better for her," she said.