Family, Friends Remember Slain San Bernardino School Teacher at Vigil

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Nearly one hundred people gathered for a vigil in San Bernardino on Friday night to remember a teacher who was gunned down at North Park Elementary School.

Karen Smith, who taught special education students, was shot four days ago in her classroom by her estranged husband, Cedric Anderson, according to police. Anderson also took the life of a 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez and wounded 9-year-old Nolan Brandy before turning the gun on himself.

Smith's family honored her memory at Grace Chapel in San Bernardino, where she served as a children's ministry worship leader.

Her mother, Irma Sykes, was frank with the gathered mourners.

"We'll probably have a closed casket funeral because she was shot," said Sykes. "I don't mean to depress everybody I just want you to know what's happened. She was shot in the forehead, in the cheek and in the chest."

Sykes said the family's faith has helped them through this time.

"I tell you, the Lord has not let us fall apart. He has held us together," Sykes said.

Multiple members of Smith's family spoke during the service and shared kind words about the 53-year-old teacher.

Smith's son, Rod Smith, remembered his mother by playing the guitar and singing a song she taught him. Karen Smith's daughter, Jennifer Smith, said her mother was a selfless woman and her best friend.

"My mom homeschooled us for a total of nine years, and my mom's dedication to our education paid off, as all four of us have at least one college degree," Jennifer Smith said to applause.

Karen Smith was in a relationship with Anderson for four years before marrying him in January. By March, Smith had moved out of their Riverside home and was living with her adult children, according to police.

"We would've liked to keep Karen another 25 years but God knew there was something best about her leaving last Monday," said Henry Alexander, an apostle at the church and Karen Smith's uncle.

Her family also said she lived her life focused on giving back to others and living with purpose.

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