BENTON—“A fog of grief appeared for this family,” Charles Frazier, president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said as he described ministering to a family in his church who lost their son in the tragic shooting at Marshall County High School.
Preston Cope, a 15-year-old member of Zion’s Cause Baptist Church in Benton, was one of two casualties when another 15-year-old student allegedly entered the high school that day and open fired. Bailey Holt, who attended Bethlehem Baptist Church in Benton, was the other fatality, along with 17 others injured.
Cope was a boy who loved history and baseball, friends and family said. Teammates and coaches described him as “kind, soft-spoken, and determined,” the Courier Journal reported.
Cope died en-route to the hospital. His parents, though, praised God that they got the chance to say goodbye to their son.
“There’s so many obstacles that could have prevented me from getting there. I could’ve been in a wreck, I could’ve had a flat tire, anything,” Cope’s father, Brian told the Courier Journal. “But I’m firm in my faith that God guided us safely through all of that to get us there, so we could speak to our baby and just let him know we loved him.”
Holt’s pastor, Doug Sanders, described her as “a beautiful young lady” who “had a smile on her face always, and a beautiful spirit that was contagious.”
The area has adopted a hashtag in her honor, #BELIKEBAILEY. “If everyone was like Bailey the world would most definitely be a better place to live,” Sanders added. “Bailey will be missed by many.”
Frazier received a call from a member saying that Cope was injured. “It was chaos trying to find out information. Bits and pieces were being relayed to me. Finally, I called Brian, his father, to see which hospital they were going to,” he shared.
He assured Brian that he was right behind them on their way to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., and prayed with him on the phone, but by the time he arrived at the hospital, it was too late.
Frazier continued, “I found the family in a counseling room. We hugged and cried. Brian said, ‘Bro. Charles, He is in a better place. He is in a better place than we are.'”
“We sat and wept,” Frazier said.
In the wake of the tragedy, Zion’s Cause banded together. The church provided a meal after Cope’s funeral on Jan. 27. In addition, the services that day were combined so the church could come together “for a time of healing” with the community.
“When Zion’s Cause comes together, Zion’s Cause is very strong,” Frazier added.
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention was there with the pastors who were ministering in the wake of this tragedy. He, in his Baptist Press commentary “The pastors, they were there,” recounted Frazier’s experience, but added, “And while they wept and wept, their pastor was there. Why? Because he’s their pastor.”
The Cope family expressed gratitude for the entire community’s support to the Courier Journal. “We want to thank each and every person, from the East Coast to the West Coast, because we feel the prayers, we feel so much love, and the arms wrapped around (us),” his father said. Holt’s mother added in comments to KFVS, “We feel all the prayers and so appreciate the support. But, please also remember the other innocent victims in this horrific act of violence.” (WR)