A crowd grew Thursday night as people recited the rosary through tears and an occasional mournful wail.
Over a hundred friends and family of the 16-year-old victim from Tuesday night’s mass shooting gathered at the Sam’s Circle Walmart to remember him in a vigil. Fernando Chavez-Barron, known to family and friends as Fernando Jesus, was among six people shot and killed in the store.
Posters with the boy’s name, along with bears and balloons, were tied to a tree as the family cried and the vigil attendants, many dressed in white, kept a reverent silence.
Afterward, Chavez-Barron’s friends described him as humble and intelligent.
“Fernando was such a nice kid, he would say hi to anybody,” said Joshua Trejo, 17, a friend since middle school. He added that Chavez-Barron and he were looking forward to working together at a new job after the new year.
Trejo texted Chavez-Barron several times before he heard from his friend’s brother that he had been killed, he said.
Kayla Pineda, 17, said when she heard about the shooting, she immediately thought of Chavez-Barron because she knew he worked there. She texted him, but then went to sleep.
She woke up to a text from Trejo telling her the terrible news. At first, she refused to believe it. But her sister spoke to Chavez-Barron’s mom, who confirmed their fears.
“It just sunk in, and I started crying,” Pineda said.
Pineda and Chavez-Barron had been friends since second grade. Hearing about the Thursday vigil made the death really sink in, she said.
“I’m just thinking back about all the memories and how he’s actually gone now,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.
“I think I’m still in shock. I guess I just don’t want him to really have left us.”