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Community remembers 17-year-old who authorities say was accidentally shot, killed by teen she knew

The service was held on the Mount Zion High School football field where the senior spent hours in the marching band and soccer team.

MOUNT ZION, Ga. — On the Mount Zion High School football field Wednesday, the breeze blew and the sun was bright on the 50 yard line, where Candace Chrzan's casket was placed.

It's on that same field where the 17-year-old spent hours of her life, playing the clarinet for the school marching band, and playing for the soccer team. 

On Wednesday, dozens of Carroll County students and staff members attended a service for Candace, despite it being spring break for the district.

Candace's band mom Shannon Vaughn and close family friend Tiffany Cantrell were one of many speakers who stood up to honor the teenager who died March 30.

Credit: Provided
Candace Chrzan

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"There were people from all over," recalled Cantrell who is close friends with the grandparents who raised Candace her whole life. "I can tell you it felt like we were at a football game on a Friday night. Candace was definitely there today. She knocked all the flowers over, took the preachers' papers and let the wind take it across the field."

In a news conference Friday afternoon, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office said Chrzan was shot and killed while target practicing with friends in the backyard of a home. 

"At some point, Candace did have possession of a .22 pistol that they were using for target practicing," said Ashley Hulsey with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. "The gun jammed."

They said Chrzan then handed the weapon to her friend to clear the jam. As the other teen, also a 17-year-old, was receiving it, the gun went off and hit Chrzan in the head, ultimately resulting in her death.

Credit: Provided
Candace Chrzan

RELATED: 'The grandfather will not rest easy until justice is served': Friends mourn after teen shot, killed

While Cantrell said the family still has questions for investigators on the incident, on Wednesday, the focus was remembering the girl with a big heart.

"There were tears but there was a lot of laughter and she definitely has been with us the whole time," said Vaughn.

Vaughn said that when they offered the microphone for anybody to honor Candace, the line of students and those who knew her was so long it wrapped around all the way to the parking lot.

"There are so many kids who stood up and talked today and talked about how Candace touched their life," said Cantrell. "That when they were going through things, Candace was always there to uplift people and that she didn't want anybody to be sad and down because she had lived that life and she didn't want anybody else to have to go through that."

So far, more than $17,000 have been raised through two separate fundraising pages to help the family during this time. 

"We're so blessed to have the community that we have," added Vaughn.

One of the fundraisers says her family didn't have life insurance for her funeral and arrangements. Candace was raised, and was living, with her grandparents.

"I feel like we served her family proud today," said Cantrell. "We hope we did anyway. I think that Candace is with the Angels and we're happy knowing that she is safe and she is watching over us until we get there with her."

If you'd like to donate, click here or on this link for both fundraising pages.

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