Teen shooting victim 'loved her family... and she loved life'

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. -- Friends and family paused Monday to remember 15-year-old Molly Conley, who was killed by what appears to be a random drive-by shooting Saturday night.

The Bishop Blanchet High School freshman was celebrating her recent 15th birthday and walking with friends around 11:30 p.m. when she was fatally wounded in the neck by a single shot.

Monday, her peers at school wore her favorite color purple to class in her honor.

"She was an angel," said classmate Marley Suarez. "When I did see her in the hallway, she'd always have a smile on her face and she'd always be laughing so it's a tough loss."

Molly's friends were also there to comfort her family, including her brother who spoke at a prayer service Monday morning.

"I was devastated," said Liam Whitfield, a friend of Molly's brother. "I couldn't control myself. And when I saw him last night, I wanted to hold him and tell him I was there for him."

Molly, a 4.0 student active in sports and drama, was supposed to have a birthday party in Seattle on Sunday. Her best friends who she was with on Saturday night were all from the tight-knit Magnolia neighborhood where she lived, said Father Jim Johnson, the priest at her family's church, Our Lady of Fatima.

Conley's family released their first public statement Monday afternoon; her mother saying Molly "loved to smile. She gave smiles. She had a generous spirit."

"We loved Molly so very much," Susan Arksey continued. "She was a great girl, she loved her family, her friends, her school and she loved life. She loved her sister, her brother and her parents."

Together, the two started an organization to help moms and their babies who land in domestic violence shelters.

"Molly named this cause 'Mother's Helper' because as she maintained, who needs help more than a woman in that tough situation?" Arksey said.

The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made at any Bank of America location with the title "Mother's Helper" in the subject line to help Molly's cause.

Meanwhile, investigators are still looking for the shooter and trying to determine if other drive-by shootings that were reported in Snohomish County on Saturday may be connected to the shooting that killed Conley.

But Shari Ireton with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said Monday, "We don't have any reason to believe there is any additional danger to the public."
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