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Crime

Funeral Thursday for Texas 13-Year-Old Fatally Shot Walking Home From School

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Lauren Landavazo, the 13-year-old Texas girl fatally shot while walking home from school last Friday, will be laid to rest Thursday, a funeral home spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

A visitation has been scheduled for Wednesday from 6 to 8pm at Owens and Brumly Funeral Home in Wichita Falls, Texas. Lauren’s funeral will be held Thursday at 6pm at the First Baptist Church located at 1200 9th Street, the spokesperson says. Both events are open to the public.

Lauren and her friend, Makayla Smith, were shot last Friday. Lauren died from gunshot wounds while Makayla was taken to a local hospital where she is in stable condition, authorities tell PEOPLE.

Pam Sparks, assistant pastor at First Baptist Church, says Lauren’s service is being held in the church’s worship center because of the expected turnout.

“This is a community-wide event,” Sparks says, adding that balloons will be released in Lauren’s honor after the funeral.

Lauren’s middle school, McNiel Junior High, has cancelled all afterschool activities for Thursday so the school community can attend the service.

“We want to allow as many kids as possible to attend,” Wichita Falls Superintendent Michael Kuhrt tells PEOPLE. “In our community it’s big a part of the healing process.”

Kuhrt, who will attend the service, says the school community has banded together in the wake of the tragedy.

“This morning we had a lot of parents holding signs up and saying, ‘We are Mustangs, we support you!’ to try and help the students feel safe,” he says.

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According to Sparks, Lauren regularly attended First Baptist Church’s weekly after school program for middle school students.

“I was thinking about her on the way into work this morning,” Sparks says. “How she should be going to school right now and she’s not. We can’t fix what’s happened but we can do things to help make [the family’s] lives easier.”

On Sunday, authorities arrested Kody Lott, 20, after a two-day search. Lott was pulled over following a citizen tip when his vehicle matched the suspect’s description, according to a police statement.

He was initially arrested on charges of possession of a prohibited weapon; he allegedly later confessed to the shooting while being questioned, authorities have said.

Lott is currently being held in Wichita County Jail on charges of murder, aggravated assault and possession of a prohibited weapon, according to the statement,

Authorities are still investigating Lott’s alleged motive. It was not immediately clear if Lott had entered a plea or retained an attorney. .

Lauren and Makayla were neighbors and walked home together often, Tre’vion Elliott, Lauren’s older brother, told the Times Record News. “They were best friends. They were always talking, whether through text message or Snapchat,” he said.

Sparks tells PEOPLE she encourages the community to keep Lauren’s family in their thoughts and prayers.

“It would be great to lift them up at 6pm on Thursday evening and for the days following,” Sparks says. “Because once the dust settles, the reality of what’s happened to them will sink in and then you’re back to the day-to-day of ‘She’s not here, she’s still not here.'”

A GoFundMe page has been started to help cover costs of Lauren’s funeral.