Desert Shadows Middle School reacts to murder of 8th grader

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The youngest victim in Tuesday's shooting rampage was a 14-year-old girl who attended Desert Shadows Middle School in Scottsdale.

Audra Sanders was an eighth grade honors student who was also part of her school choir and is described as very well-liked among teachers and classmates. 

With a long line of parents waiting to drop off their kids for class, Wednesday looked just like any other morning outside Desert Shadows Middle School; but students quickly learned one of their classmates is never coming back.

"Everyone is devastated, we just really are," said Kim Cooper, whose son has gone to school with Audra since elementary school.

Cooper described Audra as a girl any parent would be proud of.

"Audra was just a bright, bright girl...neat personality, interesting, her teachers loved her," Cooper said.

A beloved student who may have masked any issues at home behind a contagious smile.

"It's a shock," Cooper said.  "You just never know the pain that people live with, and it reminds you to just be really kind and good to people."

A spokesperson with the Paradise Valley Unified School District told 3TV that they are "heartbroken over the loss," adding that "the nature of her death is particularly difficult to accept."

The school principal visited each of Audra's classes Wednesday morning to inform her classmates and also let the students know counselors and psychologists are available to students, staff, and any parents to talk to for additional assistance or support during this difficult time.

Entire statement from Paradise Valley Unified School District

"We are heartbroken over the loss of our student, a 14-year-old child, and her family. The nature of their deaths is particularly difficult to accept. Audra Sanders was in the 8th grade and was a member of the school chorus. The principal of Desert Shadows Middle School visited Audra's classes this morning to inform her classmates and to share with them that a team of adults is available to them if they need assistance processing their thoughts and feelings. We will have counseling and support personnel at the school in the days ahead, as long as it appears they are needed. Our team is available not only to students and staff, but to members of our parent community as well."