Cassidy Stay thanked first responders Saturday while speaking to a crowd at an elementary school in her hometown of Spring, the Houston Chronicle reported. It was her first public appearance since the shootings.
“Happiness can be found even in darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light,” Stay said, paraphrasing a quote by Albus Dumbledore, the beloved headmaster of the Hogwarts school of wizards from the Harry Potter books.
Stay was released from a hospital Friday, two days after the attack in which her skull was fractured by a bullet graze.
Authorities say her aunt’s ex-husband, Ronald Lee Haskell, stormed into the family’s home Wednesday and fatally shot her parents and four siblings, who ranged in age from 4 to 13 years old. They say Stay survived by playing dead and called police to warn that Haskell intended to go to her grandparents’ house next.
A video posted on KPRC-TV’s website shows Stay’s grandfather, Roger Lyons, saying that “without her courage and quick thinking we might be mourning the death 20 people today, including myself and nearly all of my children and grandchildren.”
The 15-year-old recalled feeling as if angels were with her whispering to her to be quiet, Lyons said.
“We have wondered whether those angels might have been her brothers and sisters,” he said.
“I’ll be able to see them again one day,” the girl said of her slain relatives.
People attending the ceremony released hundreds of balloons and tied ribbons of different colors to trees in remembrance of the family.
The 33-year-old Haskell is accused of killing the family members after binding them and putting them face-down on the floor of their home.
Haskell had a handful of previous run-ins with law enforcement in Utah, where he had lived with his wife. Neighbors said Haskell’s marriage was so rocky Stay went to Utah last fall to help her sister escape the relationship and start a new life in Texas.