“I buried 3 kids the same way, and it’s got to stop,” Community mourns shooting death of Oklahoma teen

MCLOUD, Okla. - Days after a teenager was fatally shot inside a McLoud home, school officials said several surrounding districts have offered counseling and support.

The community is still reeling from the death of 16-year-old Kaylen Thomas. Kaylen died Friday after she was shot in the head at a friend's house.

Kaylen's mother, Cynthia Thomas, described her youngest daughter as a high school sophomore who was not only a devoted and hardworking student but also an athlete with a love for basketball and track among other sports. She had dreams of attending college either at Oklahoma State University or Oklahoma Baptist University.

"Inside and out, she was just such a beautiful, beautiful soul. She loved everybody," Cynthia said.

Doug Armstrong, head coach for the cross country and girl's basketball teams, described Kaylen as "a joy to coach."

"I knew her from the basketball court to begin with. She, for the last three and half years, was a kid who would come to the gym, and had improved and had gotten better, a great teammate, a great kid," Armstrong said. "We, as a basketball team, I stress family, family, family."

McLoud Public Schools Superintendent Steve Stanley said about 25 school counselors were available for students at their schools on Monday.

"I went over into (Kaylen's) first hour class today and helped walk over the whole class over to counselors because you got an empty chair there and that’s tough on kids," Stanley said. "We’ve got them from Shawnee. We’ve got them from the Career Tech. We’ve got them from Bethel. We’ve had so many phone calls."

Chief Tom Pringle, with the McLoud Police Department, confirms two teenagers were taken into custody for manslaughter over the weekend in connection to the shooting.

"From what I understand, the two that were arrested, from what I’ve heard — one is and one is not one of ours," Stanley said. "I don’t know if it’s video games where you shoot somebody and they come back the next day - you don’t come back from this."

Stanley said, unfortunately, it is not the district's first time dealing with a student death.

"This is our third type of incident since I’ve been here, just of the same situation. I buried three kids the same way, and it’s got to stop," he said. "That’s what I’m trying to comprehend is how do I reach out, how does our faculty reach out to what’s going on at home on the weekends? Because our teachers worry about that."

Armstrong said speaking with students and teammates about the incident is not easy but they are doing their best.

"We will talk about going through it together. It’s something we’re going to have to do. It’s something we’re not going to forget. We will honor her throughout the season," he said. "These are our kids. They’re our kids. We’re with them all day, all night at times."

Police have not released other names related to the case as of Monday afternoon.