Kids given free self-defense classes in wake of child killing

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MIDDLETOWN -

A Monmouth County martial arts studio is giving children free self-defense classes after an 11-year-old Keansburg girl was killed, allegedly by her neighbor.

The children, ages 4 to 14, learned how to punch and pull away from someone who may want to grab them.

“This is what we are working for, helping kids with self-awareness so they can help themselves,” says Bob Meyer of Renzo Gracie Martial Arts Academy in Middletown.

Meyer and his coaches also taught the children to know their parents phone numbers and where they lived. They also talked about creating passwords with parents and role played about “stranger danger.”

“I think it was wonderful. They handled the kids in a great way,” says parent Kellie Gorhan. “They didn’t make it scary, but made it sound important.

Gorhan, of Keansburg, says that she made her kids take the class after what happened to 11-year-old Abbiegail Smith.

Smith’s body was found last week wrapped in a blanket on the roof of her apartment building. Authorities say she was killed by 18-year-old Andreas Erazo, her upstairs neighbor.

Gorhan says that she had to tell her son and daughter what happened.

“It was not comfortable…you have to tell them about people passing from being sick or accidents,” she says. “This one was a little more evil.”

She says that as a parent she felt vulnerable which is why she made her kids take the class without telling them where they were going.

Funeral services for Smith will be held Monday at St. Ann’s Church in Keansburg.

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