School honors 8-year-old Secoriea Turner with balloon release

ATLANTA — Family, classmates, friends and teachers of 8-year-old Secoriea Turner gathered to honor her with a balloon release ceremony at her school Monday afternoon.

Turner was shot and killed on July 4 as she rode in a car with her mother and a friend. The driver was attempting to get around a makeshift barrier near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed when he encountered a group of armed men. Turner was killed after someone fired shots into the car.

Julian Conley, 19, has been arrested and charged with her murder. Police are still searching for other persons of interest.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones was at KIPP WAYS Academy in northwest Atlanta for the ceremony, where the group released pink and purple balloons and wore shirts adorned with unicorns, which Secoriea loved.

Jones spoke to people who knew Secoriea who and said she was bold and filled the hearts of everyone she met. She was a third-grader at the academy.

“We were friends, but I felt like a close connection with her,” Nikhaa Driver said. “She would always tell jokes. We’d laugh. Me and her had the best times together.”

Speakers talked about how Secoriea was smart, sometimes shy -- and someone who loved to get it right.

One teacher remembered getting her name wrong during roll call.

“And she made sure,” the teacher said. “She raised her hand. She was like, ‘Excuse me, Ms. Evans, it’s SECORIEA.”

The school gave Secoriea’s family a box full of letters people had written.

Her soccer team also retired her jersey and the school has planted a tree in her memory.

Secoriea’s father, Secoriya Williamson, was at the event and said he knew her classmates were having a tough time.

“I just want the kids to know that she will forever be your friend, long as you keep her in your heart,” Williamson said.

Turner was laid to rest during a private funeral service July 15.