Church opens doors for grieving community following Salem HS student’s death

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Hours after a student died inside Salem High School, a nearby church opened up its doors.

"As the word of a loss of life came out I just knew we had do something," said James Warren, Student Pastor at Coastal Community Church.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday the church had staff at the ready to talk with students, teachers or anyone else coming to grips with the days events; the student's passing and the resulting lockdown and early dismissal.

The church tells News 3 nearly 70 people came out.

"We wanted to be a safe place where they could come and either exist and do nothing, to talk if they wanted to talk or just be in a room with their friends and their peers," said Warren.

Not far away, Josh Chase and his daughter, Rylie, a junior at Salem, were discussing the day's events.

"I think just starting with asking how your kids feel, ask them how they were affected during the day. Give them time to express out their feelings. Sit down and be willing to have a conversation with them," said Josh.

Rylie Chase told News 3 her dad initially started texting her during the lockdown to make sure she was okay.

Tonight, she's thinking about the family who lost a loved one; her peer.

"It’s all I can think about. I don’t know who it was, but I keep thinking about is (that) I’m praying for their family," she said.

Police say there is no foul play in the student's passing.

Salem High School is expected to open at its normal time Friday.