TOWNVILLE, SC – Superheroes of various affiliations filled the pews of Oakdale Baptist Church in Townville, South Carolina, on Tuesday afternoon.
Boys and girls dressed as Batman, Superman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sat among adults and teenagers wearing capes and logo T-shirts.
Amid the festive atmosphere, a coffin resting in front of the altar, surrounded by pictures of a smiling boy, was a somber reminder of the reason for the gathering.
Mourners had come to remember 6-year-old Jacob Hall, who died after being shot last week at school.
Jacob was shot on September 28 when a 14-year-old boy opened fire at the playground at Townville Elementary School, southwest of Greenville. After three days on life support, he passed away on Saturday. His death led prosecutors to upgrade an attempted murder charge to murder against the accused shooter, who is not being identified because of his age.
Tuesday’s visitation was a prelude to Jacob’s superhero-themed funeral on Wednesday.
Jacob’s mother, Renae Hall, said the boy loved superheroes and always wanted to save people from danger.
Jacob will be dressed in a Batman costume and pallbearers at the funeral will wear superhero outfits. She said she encouraged mourners to do the same.
“I don’t want suits and ties and all that,” Hall said. “There will be a lot of children there and I don’t want it to be scary for them.”
The visitation offered a hopeful sign of what’s to come at Wednesday’s funeral.
Chatter and children’s laughter floated through the room, creating a scene more reminiscent of a children’s birthday party than a visitation. Floral arrangements festooned with stuffed Ninja Turtles and colorful balloons decorated the altar as a slide show of photos of Jacob and his family played on the wall.
At the front of Jacob’s casket, relatives wearing superhero costumes and Team Jacob shirts greeted well-wishers carrying stuffed animals for his coffin.
An online fundraiser has brought in more than $126,500 for the Hall family and their expenses.