Zimmerman Elementary Students Cope with Loss of Classmates

Updated: 04/03/2013 5:46 AM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson

Families in the Zimmerman community say they can't put their grief in words so instead they're writing letters to leave at the memorial outside the Shield's home as tokens of love in a terrible time.

"If you need help, we'll be there," said district Superintendent Dr. Mark Bezek.

Dr. Bezek has brought on extra counselors, child psychiatrists and teaching aides to help students at Zimmerman Elementary School cope with the loss of classmates 6-year-old Josephine and 7-year-old Nolan Shields.

"This is one of those things, my God, I can't believe this happened," he said.

The Sherburne County Sheriff says a family member found the two young children and their mother, Stephanie, dead inside their Zimmerman home on Easter Sunday.  Tuesday, the medical examiner ruled the two children were drowned and their mother likely committed suicide. 

The Sheriff tells us the children's father, Mark Shields, moved out of their home within the past week.  In a town of only 5,200 people, the tragedy resonates well beyond the Shields' quiet neighborhood.

"It's always an opportunity to say, okay, obviously in this whole situation somebody missed something somewhere," said Dr. Bezek.

Dr. Bezek's first priority is his students but he's also offering resources to the entire community in whatever way he can.

The Sherburne County Sheriff says they are not searching for any suspects and there is no threat to the public, suggesting this may be a case of murder-suicide.  They are still waiting on toxicology tests and lab results to reveal how Stephanie Shields died.

Click here to read a letter sent home to parents of students in Zimmerman schools.