Slain fifth-grader’s principal remembers ‘great kid’ who ‘classmates looked up to’


Lillyhanna Davis

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Lillyhanna Davis was the kind of student principals, teachers and classmates love, Central Elementary Principal Terry Morley said Friday.

“She was just a great kid to know and she was somebody that the classmates looked up to,” Morley said of Davis, 10, who died from injuries sustained in a drive-by shooting at her home early Tuesday morning. Three suspects are jailed in connection to the Blevins Road incident.

Morley said Davis was a Central Comet for the last couple of years and universally well-liked at the small, tight-knit K-8 school.

Central Elementary School Principal Terry Morley spoke to News Channel 11 about slain student Lillyhanna Davis Friday.

“She loved to help other students,” Morley said. “She was very bright, loved to read, so when she would get done with her work she would immediately get up and go help other kids. She did that without any prompting from any of the teachers.”

Morley remembered a child who loved dogs, but seemed more about the interests of others.

“She liked to talk to her friends about their interests as well,” Morley said. “She always had a smile on her face. Even when things might not be going right somewhere else you could always turn to her and she always had a good disposition.

“She liked to make friends and she had a lot of them, and was well thought of by everybody.”

The tragedy quickly brought an offer of Zoom and phone counseling to staff and students. It’s been important, the man who heard the sounds of law enforcement when he was drinking coffee at his home not far from Davis’s home around 5:30 Tuesday morning.

“I actually drove down there to make sure it wasn’t their place and unfortunately it was,” he said. “So, yeah — heartbreaking.”

The counseling has helped, and Morley said counselors are being honest, but age-appropriate, with children’s questions — “as open as possible.”

The school’s leadership team has spent several days discussing a possible school and community-wide celebration of Lillyhanna’s life. Morley said he expects those details to finalize and be put into action in the spring and that the school’s administration will share that news once details come together.

In the meantime, teachers, staff and students all are dealing with the weight of the moment the best way they can.

“It’s hard because we’re a very small, tight-knit school and everybody knows everybody,” Morley said. “And so the way she touched everybody’s lives, we spent some time reminiscing about what a good person she was and that seemed to help people.”

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