DEER PARK, Wash. — Days after he was accidentally shot and killed inside his grandmother’s home, 8-year-old Atillio “Tilly” Stanley’s family said it feels as if they’re living a nightmare they can’t wake up from.
“I think right now it’s almost still hard to believe, still seems like we’re stuck in a nightmare,” Mary Molyneaux said. “Little by little other things come up and it hits you in the face, that this is real.”
Mary Molyneaux is dating Tilly’s father, Jayson Stanley – she has been part of Tilly’s day-to-day life, up to the minute he died. Real life is still a blur for Molyneaux and Stanley, as they look through photos of the little boy.
“He was a sweet, sweet boy. He had such a sweet little voice, he was affectionate,” Molyneaux said.
Molyneaux said Tilly loved to play with his toys, especially Legos; the floor of his bedroom, full of them. An ordinary room for an 8-year-old, now empty.
Tilly was shot and killed on Sept. 28, when his siblings found their dad’s handgun in his dresser and started playing with it, while Stanley and Molyneaux were out of the house. The children’s grandmother was home at the time. At some point, the gun went off and struck Tilly.
According to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, police and medical personnel responded to the home around 9:35 p.m., but Tilly was pronounced dead at the scene.
When Molyneaux and Stanley returned home, they walked into the nightmare they’re still living.
“We come running in and we find Tilly. It was shocking,” Molyneaux said. “It’s almost like now, when I look back on it, I really don’t remember too much. I think my brain blocked some things out. It’s hard to believe not even an hour before that we were all together laughing. Things can change so fast.”
In a second, life as they knew it was uprooted. Molyneaux said the gun wasn’t locked up in a safe because the family had just moved into the grandmother’s home. Yet, she said Tilly’s death could have been avoided.
Tilly leaves behind his two older brothers, an older sister, and his younger sister – whom Molyneaux said the young boy was closest to.
“We just informed his little sister today, we didn’t go into detail, but she didn’t know that he was gone,” she said.
Molyneaux said the kids all loved each other so much and were always playing outside, making friends with the neighborhood kids. Riding scooters, bikes – laughing without a care in the world.
Now, their family is short one bright, and very young life, as they plan for Tilly’s funeral. Each one of them left remembering the little things they can’t get back but will always hold onto.
“That’s all I can say is that he was a sweet, innocent boy who did not deserve any of this,” Molyneaux said.
If you feel the pull to help this family recover, a family friend set up this GoFundMe to help pay for Tilly’s funeral expenses.