Hundreds of friends, relatives and supporters today celebrated the life of Kayla Allen, the third victim of her father's deadly shooting spree in a Cracker Barrel restaurant April 12.
"It shows there is still a lot of love in this world," said Kayla's aunt, Michelle Jindra. "Kayla went out with love instead of violence."
Many of the well-wishers were dressed in green and black, Kayla's favorite colors.
The memorial service was held at Grace Church in Middleburg Heights to accommodate the large crowd, but was officiated by the Rev. Dave Anderson, pastor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church of Medina.
Michelle Jindra said she believes Kayla is now with her mother, Kate, and sister, Kerri, and said that is where Kayla wanted to be.
"I think Kayla gave up (her fight to recover) to be with them," she said.
Kayla, who was shot in the face and lost an eye, seemed to be on the road to recovery when she suffered a brain aneurysm -- a day after she learned her mother and sister had both died.
"I didn't think my heart could break any more," Michelle said at the memorial service. "But then I realized Kayla had given up and was ready to be with Kate and Kerri."
Carl Jindra, who is Kate's brother, and Michelle had planned to raise Kayla -- and said their two daughters, 8 and 4, "were all for having another sister."
Kayla died May 15 in hospice care at the Jindras' home.
The Rev. Jonathan Schaeffer, pastor of Grace Church, said his family lives very near the Allen home in Strongsville and his son attended fourth grade with Kerri at Chapman Elementary.
"Our family, like many of you, we've grieved," Schaeffer said.
Also speaking at the service were Arriana Yezzi, Kayla's cousin; her uncle David Allen of Kansas City, MO, and Christy Musolf, Kate's best friend.
Anderson told the gathering that the shooting was a work of evil.
"What happened that fateful night was not God's will," he said. "But I do believe what's happened since is God's will. There were angels everywhere -- people unaware they were angels."
Carl Jindra thanked the hundreds of people who have helped his family, worked to raise money for Kayla and offered support. He also thanked Kayla's three best friends, who called themselves the "GEAK squad," and, wearing green, sat in the front row of the church.
"I have friends like you and I'm glad she did, too," he said.
The service concluded with dozens of friends launching green and black balloons.
Meanwhile, a family friend is setting up a foundation to help victims of domestic violence.
"God has placed it upon my heart that I need to lead the support Kayla received to something bigger. I am asking all of the people that were touched by Kate, Kayla and Kerri to support a foundation we are creating, with the help of many, that will provide resources to victims of domestic abuse," family friend Mark Karr wrote on Kayla's Facebook page.
Karr said he hopes to use money generated by the foundation to directly help women and children in need with crisis centers.