STEUBEN TOWNSHIP — As Pennsylvania State Police search for a suspect in the killings of two Guys Mills residents, officials, parents and students in the PENNCREST School District prepare to return to school in two weeks without one of their own.

Ten-year-old Darrin Whitman, a fifth grader at Maplewood Elementary, was shot to death Saturday along with his 49-year-old mother, Shannon Whitman, in their home on Route 198. Jack Elijah Turner, 21, believed to be the stepson of Shannon Whitman and half-brother of Darrin Whitman, is being sought for questioning by state police and is considered a person of interest in the killings, according to Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz.

PENNCREST families learned of the incident in a notification from Superintendent Timothy Glasspool that was posted to the district website over the weekend.

On Monday, the Maplewood Crisis Team met with members of 10 families at the elementary and high schools, Glasspool said. Counselors, psychiatrists and other school officials will be available at the schools again from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and at additional times as needed, Glasspool added.

The district had “pulled together” in the face of the news, Glasspool said.

“It’s difficult — beyond tragic,” he said. “The staff here is struggling with the loss. Nothing but positive comments have come in today regarding Darrin.

“Darrin was well liked. He participated in athletics,” Glasspool said, “and he touched a lot of lives at a young age.”

Glasspool said more families were expected to meet with the crisis team today and encouraged any families with children who knew Whitman to come to the school.

“If we can help in any way, we will,” Glasspool said.

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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