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7-year-old adjusts after shootings

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST

WHITE HALL (AP) – A 7-year-old girl has been adjusting "amazingly well" after surviving an April shooting that left several members of her family dead in central Illinois, her grandmother said.

A bloodied and injured Kassidy Ralston was handed to a neighbor by a man accused of shooting the girl's parents, two brothers and great-grandmother in Manchester, a village of about 300 residents roughly 50 miles west of Springfield. State police have said the attack stemmed from a domestic dispute.

"She's getting back to being her regular little sassy Cathy, we call her," her grandmother, Pam Ralston, told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/14FNfea) on Monday.

State police have said they believe the gunman, 43-year-old Rick O. Smith, planned the April 24 shooting because he thought the family was interfering in his dispute with the mother of his 3-year-old daughter.

Killed in the attack were Kassidy's father, 29-year-old James Roy Ralston; her pregnant mother, 23-year-old Brittney Luark; her brothers, 5-year-old Nolan and 1-year-old Brantley; and great-grandmother, 66-year-old Jo Ann Sinclair.

Police said that after the shootings Smith picked up Kassidy and carried her outside. They said he handed the bloodied child to a neighbor before driving off. Police later shot Smith after he fired shots at officers during a car chase.

Kassidy now lives with her grandparents in Greene County, where she came after she was released from a Springfield hospital for injuries she suffered in the shootings. The girl's left eye was injured, and Ralston said family members are hoping Kassidy will regain her vision.

Ralston said the girl will start a ballet and tumbling class this week.

Since the shooting family friends and others have organized fundraisers for the girl. The money is in a trust fund for Kassidy's college expenses.

"It's been amazing, the support we've gotten," Ralston said.

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