Students honor father of slain classmate - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Students honor father of slain classmate

After Zakaria Sanders died in a tragic incident, students at Lamar Reese came together to honor her father on Wednesday. (Source: WALB) After Zakaria Sanders died in a tragic incident, students at Lamar Reese came together to honor her father on Wednesday. (Source: WALB)
Zakaria walked the halls of Lamar Reese Elementary school on her first day of first grade with a big smile. (Source: WALB) Zakaria walked the halls of Lamar Reese Elementary school on her first day of first grade with a big smile. (Source: WALB)
On Wednesday, students and faculty at Lamar Reese helped bring a smile to Alton's face. (Source: WALB) On Wednesday, students and faculty at Lamar Reese helped bring a smile to Alton's face. (Source: WALB)
Alton Sanders (Source: WALB) Alton Sanders (Source: WALB)
Dr. Angela Shumate (Source: WALB) Dr. Angela Shumate (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Students at an Albany school reached out to a father grieving the loss of his little girl, who was also one of their classmates.

6-year-old Zakaria Sanders was killed a month ago by her grandmother.

Her father spoke on camera for the first time on Wednesday while visiting her school.

It has been been a difficult month for Alton Sanders. Not only did he lose his daughter but his nephew as well. 

On Wednesday he remembered his little girl who gave him the best six years of his life. 

Zakaria walked the halls of Lamar Reese Elementary school on her first day of first grade with a big smile. 

"It was the most beautiful smile that you could ever see," said Dr. Angela Shumate, Lamar Reese Elementary School principal.

Now that smile is just a memory, and her life was tragically taken the next day on West Doublegate Drive. 

Prosecutors said that her grandmother attacked Zakaria and her cousin Jaylan Barr with a knife before setting fire to the house. 

And her father Alton is still mourning. 

"Mentally I of course have those moments where I just find myself breaking down, crying, like man this is reality for me," explained Alton. "I have to get adjusted to this new life."

He said that he had a special bond with his daughter. 

"I was so used to her. Everything we did, we did together," said Alton. "I would go to work, get off and it was time to be with her."

Alton had recently bought the house that now gives him nightmares. 

"When she first went to the house she walked around, she told me how nice it was and she picked her own room out," explained Alton. "The room she lost her life and is the room she picked out. Its crazy."

Alton said that he continues to look to his faith for guidance but still can't believe what happened. He said his mother was never diagnosed as a schizophrenic. 

"I like, I love my mother to death, but that's my baby, like you can't hurt my baby," said Alton. "But there was no signs or nothing." 

On Wednesday, students and faculty at Lamar Reese helped bring a smile to Alton's face. 

Shumate presented Alton with a $1,000 check from the school as well as a photo of his daughter and colorings from students. 

"When they drew pictures they drew of the fondest memories of her," said Shumate. "They drew angels. They wrote things like you are up in heaven now." 

Up in heaven looking down with that smile. 

"We remember her smile. There was something special about that smile," explained Shumate. "Her spirit still lives at the school. We will never ever forget Zakaria Sanders." 

Alton said that it is hard to even drive by the house, but because of his work and the support from the community, he has decided to stay in Albany.

MORE: Community gathers to support Doublegate children

Copyright 2016 WALB. All rights reserved.

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