Family, friends and strangers have donated more than $265,000 online to benefit the lone survivor of last week’s family shooting in Texas, which left two adults and four children dead.
More than 5,000 people have donated to a GoFundMe site titled “Stay Family Tragedy – Cassidy Stay Fund” established three days ago, with the total nearing the fund’s goal of $300,000.
The fundraising comes as Cassidy Stay, 15, made an emotional appearance at a memorial service this weekend, thanking well-wishers and discussing her recovery after authorities say she was shot in the head.
“I’m really thankful for all the people that have been praying for me,” she said.
Cassidy wore a bandage on her hand. She lost part of a finger shielding her head from a bullet that police say was fired by her former uncle, Ron Haskell.
Haskell, 33, is charged with shooting Cassidy’s parents and four siblings at their home north of Houston Wednesday. Investigators say Cassidy played dead and called 911 to warn police that Haskell was headed to kill her parents.
Her grandfather Roger Lyon is humbled by Cassidy’s courage. “We continue to be in awe of how she was able to save us,” he said.
Prosecutors say Haskell, who collapsed twice in court Friday, killed the family because they wouldn’t tell him where to find his ex-wife.
Doug Durham, Haskell’s defense attorney, is hinting at an insanity defense.
“Our legal system recognizes that a person who is suffering from a mental illness and can’t distinguish right from wrong at the time they commit a violent act is not criminally responsible,” Durham said.
While Cassidy has shown considerable strength and poise following the shooting, a moment of childhood innocence shined through when she quoted a character from her beloved “Harry Potter” series at Saturday’s ceremony.
“Dumbledore says, ‘Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light,’” she said.