Parents held their children tight. Friends embraced each other as tears streamed down their faces. A community gathered for a candlelight vigil Thursday night in Springville after what police are calling an "apparent murder-suicide."
Earlier Thursday, police confirmed the victim as Lily Conroy, 17. The ex-boyfriend who they say shot her and fatally wounded himself was identified as Masao Kaanga, 19, of Springville. Kaanga graduated from Springville High last year.
Help for people in abusive relationships is available in Utah and nationwide
- YWCA’s Women in Jeopardy program: 801-537-8600
- Utah statewide Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-897-LINK (5465) and udvc.org
- 24-hour Salt Lake victim advocate hotline: 801-580-7969
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
Lily Conroy is not expected to survive but remained on life support Thursday as doctors and her family prepared to have her organs donated, officials said. Police are asking if any local family is in need of organ donation to contact them at 801-489-9421.
Bishop Jeff Baird, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led Thursday's vigil where hundreds gathered, calling on community members to continue to show love and support to both families.
"I know that there are a lot of people that are wanting to show their love and support for these families and we are really grateful for your desire to do that," Bishop Baird said. "I would encourage you to reach out when you feel it is appropriate to do so while also respecting them and their privacy during this time."
"It is a marathon, not a sprint, when it comes to simple acts of service, so I would encourage you that while this is an amazing show of support, to not let this die down. I encourage you to find opportunities over the next days and weeks and even months to reach out to these families," he said. "It will get quiet in their homes and I know that they will be looking for friends who they can commiserate with and maybe share stories with."
Police said Thursday afternoon that Lily Conroy remained on life support to preserve organs and was "mortally wounded." A letter sent to parents from Springville High Principal Robert Fleming, as well as an announcement Thursday to students at school, stated that Lily is deceased.
"I am writing with great sadness to inform you that one of our Springville High School family, Lily Conroy, has passed away. Our thoughts and sympathies are with her family and friends. All of the students were given the news of the death by their teacher in their first-period class this morning," Fleming said in his letter.
Counselors were at the high school Thursday and will be there over the next few days, according to the school. The school year for Springville High ends next week.
"Feeling sad is a normal response to any loss. Some of you may not have known Lily very well and may not be as affected, while others may experience a great deal of sadness. We have trained counselors and social workers available in the counseling office to help our school community cope with this tragedy. If you'd like to talk to a counselor, please let your teacher know," students were told.
Wednesday's tragic discovery was made after police were asked to conduct a welfare check at about 3:15 p.m. Police say Kaanga had told his mother he would be at Hobble Creek Park. When officers arrived, the two were found shot in the front seat of a car. The shooting is believed to have happened about 3:30 p.m. Kaanga was pronounced dead at the scene and Lily was taken by medical helicopter to a local hospital.
Lily is survived by her parents and two younger sisters. A GoFundme campaign was started by friends to help the family with funeral expenses.
Contributing: Karah Brackin, Arianne Brown