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As a succession of mourners dressed in superhero costumes came to pay tribute to Jacob Hall, the first-grader who died after being shot on his school playground, his mother took solace in knowing it was a fitting way to honor her son's memory.
Hall, 6, was mourned by more than a thousand people at a funeral service at Oakdale Baptist Church in Townville, South Carolina, on Wednesday. His mother, Renae Hall, suggested that everyone come in a superhero costume to honor the memory of Jacob, who always imagined himself as a superhero helping others.
"I knew it was going to be Jacob's classmates, friends from all over the place,'' Hall told Janet Shamlian on TODAY. "I didn't want them to be sad."
Despite the upbeat atmosphere celebrating Jacob's life, it was a devastating day for his family.
"I don't want to let him go, but I have to,'' Hall said. "This is the worst pain I've ever felt in my whole entire life."
A third of the population of the small town came out to celebrate Jacob's life, with people dressed as everyone from Superman to Wonder Woman to Jacob's favorite, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
"I would never imagine one small kid would've brought us all together,'' attendee Karissa Mattress, who was dressed as Superman, told Shamlian.
The K-9 unit of the local police came dressed in superhero garb, and the Batmobile even made an appearance thanks to a charity, Heroes 4 Higher, with a mission to inspire kids. A military veteran named John Buckland, the founder of the charity, came dressed as Batman and gave a heartwarming speech.
"I can't help but feel that he's been riding with me in that Batmobile with that wreath for the longest time today,'' Buckland said at the ceremony.
A bullet pierced an artery in Hall's leg on Sept. 28 when a 14-year-old boy began shooting at Townville Elementary School, authorities said. Jacob fought for nearly a week after losing 75 percent of his blood and undergoing multiple surgeries when he went into cardiac arrest.
Authorities say the teenager first shot his father to death before going to the elementary school. He was charged as a juvenile on Sept. 30 with murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Jacob's teacher, Meghan Hollingsworth, was shot in the shoulder trying to protect Jacob and has made a recovery.
Townville Elementary School held classes Thursday for the first time since the shooting, one day after laying a superhero to rest with a fitting tribute.
"I'm surprised it's not raining out from his tears of joy,'' Hall said.
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