The flag at Southeast Middle School was flying at half-staff today as a funeral service was being held for Barbara Ann Thrower, the school's head custodian who was shot to death Monday afternoon.
Assistant Principal J. Roland Sullivan said that more than 50 staff workers, including Principal John E. Mohamed, were wearing black ribbons in honor of Thrower, who was found dead in the school's boiler room, shot several times in the head and chest.
Besides flying the flag at half-staff, donations from staff and students are being collected and will be given to Thrower's family, said Assistant Principal Jane Fields.
A funeral service was being held at Eastern United Methodist Church in the 1400 block of E. North Ave.
"It's a very sad loss," Fields said. "She was a very hard worker."
Besides the personal loss, there is a professional loss, school officials said.
Sullivan said, "It's definitely a blow.
"You had a very proficient person . . . who was able to carry a staff," he said. "You don't replace people like that too readily."
Thrower, of the 2000 block of E. Lanvale St., was hired at the school, in the 6800 block of Fait Ave., in February. She was in charge of three other custodians.
"She was fantastic," Sullivan said. "She was a beautiful person."
Sullivan and Fields said Thrower was hard-working, outgoing and pleasant.
"She had a very warm smile," said Sullivan. "Every day you would see her, she would have a smile."
Agent Arlene Jenkins, a police spokeswoman, said police have yet to find a suspect in the shooting, believed motivated by robbery.
Thrower was found lying on her back in the boiler room by an electrical contractor. The contents of her purse were scattered on the floor, and her pants pockets had been turned inside out.
No one heard the gunshots.
Anyone with information can call the homicide unit at 396-2100, Jenkins said.
Since the shooting, the school has added a security guard.
"I think the staff feels very safe," Sullivan said. "They know w are doing everything humanly possible to protect them."
He continued, "I think the majority of them realize this was a isolated incident."
Sullivan said the students had suggested safety procedures. He said they have reacted maturely.
Crisis counselors are expected to be at the school through Monday to help the students deal with their feelings, Fields said.
Sullivan said there are 552 students at the school.
Thrower is survived by her husband, Raymond Thrower; a daughter, Renee Thrower; her mother, Hattie Morrison; three sisters, Elaine Wyatt, Sharon Wiggins and Rosalyn McCauley; and a brother, Lee Morrison.