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'We all loved Daquan': Community in shock after Riverdale student killed weeks before graduation

Family said Daquan Gillett was shot multiple times after an incident that occurred during a water balloon fight in Fayette County.

RIVERDALE, Ga. — A community is grieving after a life was cut way too short just days earlier.

The family of 18-year-old Daquan Gillett said he was shot and killed after a water gun fight turned deadly on Friday. His death came just two weeks before his graduation.

While we’re still learning about the details that led to Gillett’s death, those who knew him are sharing their memories.

“We all loved DaQuan,” educator Brooke Sellars said. “He was a big asset and a tremendous loss to the Riverdale community, and I want people to know that he was someone who was going places.”

Gillett's family said his life was taken Friday afternoon during what was supposed to be innocent fun among senior students. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office said a group of young people took part in a water gun and balloon fight at Kenwood Park.  

Gillett’s family said they had a fight with some guys, and, after the fight, those suspects pulled out guns and started shooting. They said Gillett was hit twice and his twin brother held him as he bled on the sidewalk.

The sheriff’s office, while not identifying the victim, said he was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

“When I got the call, I was in a state of shock,” Sellars said.

News of Gillett’s death traveled quickly through what has been described as a tight-knit community. Classmates and former teachers were all devastated by the loss of a young man with a bright future ahead of him.

“This news is just literally heartbreaking especially with graduation around the corner,” Sellars said.

"We raise these kids to be amazing citizens in our community and for them not to make it is really devastating" said Darla Boodram- Roberts, who taught Gillett in middle school. 

She said he was always smiling and with his twin brother, calling the two amazing young men where were raised well. 

The family said Gillett, who played football throughout high school, had an entrepreneurial spirit. He wanted to start his own business and was thinking about going into the military.

“Daquan was so optimistic and positive about football and things he wanted to do,” Sellars said. “You could tell he was well on his way.”

Sheriff deputies are still investigating and trying to figure out who pulled the trigger. An online fundraiser, which was verified by the family, has since been set up to handle memorial expenses for Gillett.

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