BAILEY, Colo. (AP) – In a mountain meadow not far where she was shot by a gunman who invaded her school, those who knew Emily Keyes – and many who didn’t – came together on a bright, breezy fall Saturday to remember the teen and hear a message of forgiveness and hope.

Family friend Louis Gonzalez asked mourners to embrace Emily’s last words to her family, a text message that said “I love U guys,” sent to her father, who was standing in view of the school as she was held hostage.

Gonzalez told the several thousand outside the National Farmers Union Education Center: “Picture Emily’s face in your mind. Give it a kiss. I love you guys. Random acts of kindness.”

Speaking for the family, he said, “We have the power to do this. Let’s take the random act that has occurred and turn it to random acts of kindness.”

Keyes was shot in the head Wednesday as she fled from Duane Morrison, who had held her and five other girls hostage. Morrison killed himself after a SWAT team stormed the classroom.

“Emily was a part of my life and a part of all of your lives, and I know that,” her twin brother, Casey, said. “And that part was torn away and stolen this Wednesday. But the part of us that can never be torn away and never be stolen is the love and strength that keeps us together.”

The crowd greeted Sheriff Fred Wegener with a standing ovation.

“This is the hardest thing that I’ll ever face, and I want the Keyes family to know that if I could trade places with Emily, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Wegener said. “Emily will be with me in my heart forever.”

Ruth Barth, Emily’s speech teacher and debate coach, told the crowd that no one should feel guilt because nothing more could have been done to save her.

“In fact, it’s my personal belief that Emily is debating hard on the other side, and that she’s winning every single debate, and that she’s using her extemporaneous skills to confound any mind that she contends with,” she said.

The family came in limousines preceded by a caravan of emergency vehicles and sheriff’s department cars. Pink ribbons tied to ponderosa pines lined the road. Many mourners wore ribbons saying “Random acts of kindness for Emily.”

Keyes had wanted to donate her organs, and a note in the memorial service program read: “That desire was honored.”

On Friday night, a candlelight vigil was held. “I think everybody’s looking for answers,” said Gray Anderson, a counselor who has been talking with residents. “People are just looking for reasons why.”

Earlier it was learned that Morrison had indicated he planned some violent act. A 14-page letter from Morrison was postmarked Wednesday in nearby Shawnee – the same day he took the girls hostage.

Morrison claimed in the letter that it was not a suicide note, Wegener said.

“However, many times, the letter references suicide,” Wegener said. “This letter clearly acknowledges his pending death. It also apologizes to his family for his actions that will occur.”

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