Redland community grieving after assumed murder-suicide

Updated: Jul. 9, 2018 at 10:40 PM CDT
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WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - Two days after an apparent murder-suicide in Elmore County, the Redland Community gathered for a vigil to remember the lives lost.

An unthinkable tragedy happened on Saturday when police say Robert "Bob" Orsi opened fire in his home, killing his wife, Charlene, and one of their four daughters. Authorities said Bob Orsi then set the house on fire.

"Just that sinking feeling to know that somebody that you know that is making a difference in our community, empowering your kids, to know they've experienced a tragedy is just heartbreaking," Wes Gunn, the pastor at Redland Hills Church, said.

Gunn said the community reached out to him asking if they could hold a vigil at his church.

"Teachers had heard a lot from parents and students like 'Hey, my child really wants to be with classmates, they want to hold each other and they want to grieve together.' So, this just provides a forum and an opportunity for them to share some memories," Gunn said.

Gunn is not only a pastor, but a volunteer firefighter who was at the scene of the crime on Saturday helping put out the blaze.

"That was my first time to see something as significant as that," Gunn said.

Gunn's children go to Redland Elementary where Charlene taught. The Orsi children also attended school at Redland Elementary.

"Our first thought is obviously just shock, we just, you know, it's just unbelievable. It's hard to even grasp it today," Christy Wright, the assistant principal at Redland Elementary, said.

Wright worked with Charlene for three years and called her not only a colleague, but a friend.

"She was one of our teachers and she was also a friend. She's just the most amazing person. She was always willing to help in any way and always went above and beyond the call of duty," Wright said.

That's what the community wants to do for the family now: go above and beyond. That outpouring of love was shown at Monday night's vigil when hundreds of fellow classmates, friends and colleagues showed up to give the family their love and support.

[MORE: Redland community works through grief of murder-suicide to help siblings]

Redland Elementary School is open to the public with grief counselors on hand from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday and Tuesday for any student or adult who needs to talk to someone about this difficult loss.

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