Today marks one year since the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, during which seventeen people, including fourteen teenagers, were killed. But this toll pales in comparison to the carnage from gun violence across the country between then and now.
During the past twelve months, nearly 1,200 children or teens died by firearm, including fifteen in Colorado.
The data was compiled for "Since Parkland," a project conducted in partnership with the Miami Herald and its parent newspaper company, McClatchy. But the profiles of the deceased are all written by student journalists — appropriate given the ages of those who died.
A few months after the Florida attack, Westword made a smaller-scale comparison between Parkland and gun violence in Colorado. We revealed that fourteen teens in the state, the same number who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, were fatally shot and killed here over a span of less than a year, from July 2017 to April 2018.
Our source for that effort was GunMemorial.org, a national website whose founder and creator, Steve Tarzia, has been profiled in this space. And while most of the Colorado fifteen cited in "Since Parkland" are included on the page that focuses on the state (the links are in the captions of each photo), several others aren't. And none of those who lost their lives deserve to be forgotten.
Learn more about each of them here, listed in chronological order.
Branden Patten died in an accidental shooting on March 2, 2018, in Arboles, Colorado.
From the GoFundMe page created after Patten's death: "On March 2nd my niece lost her son Branden in a tragic accident. Branden leaves behind a grieving mom and dad, that now have to pay for a funeral. They still have 5 kids at home to take care of, so they'll also need help with living expenses until they are able to return to work. This is a nightmare no parent should face...."
Ty Martinez was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Denver on March 17, 2018.
From his online obituary: "In loving memory of our King Ty, a handsome young man who was ready to begin his journey to success.
"Ty was an outgoing young man who always had a smile on his face. He kept positive vibes. He was an artist in various fields of life. Ty had his plan made. Ty loves his family and will be deeply missed. He touched many lives in many ways. We love our King Ty."
Marshall Mitschelen was accidentally shot to death by a friend on May 9, 2018.
From a Facebook post shared on the day Marshall Mischelen died: "Well, I don't know how [or] what to say right now. Marshall you were such a good person. It feels unreal to me that you're gone. I'm glad I had all the memories I had with you. Every time I saw you, you always came to say hi to me, give me a hug, and have a huge smile on your face. I just can't believe it. I can't believe I will never see you again. You always knew how to cheer anyone up. You always wanted to be there for people. I will always remember you and the times you and I had together. R.I.P. Marshall Mitschelen."
Rosando Anthony Martinez
Rosando Anthony Martinez was one of two people killed in a May 30, 2018, shooting near 6th and Perry in Denver.
From comments on his GunMemorial.org page:
"He was a beautiful soul every way possible....
"So young, so sad."
GunMemorial.org allows visitors to light virtual candles for those being remembered. At this writing, 77 are burning for Martinez.
Alexander Burger died of a single gunshot wound on June 3, 2018, after what's described as "a violent confrontation with an employee of Echo Valley Ranch."
From Alexander Burger's online obituary: "Alexander James Burger, beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend passed away June 3, 2018. Alex just completed his junior year at Wheat Ridge High School. He was very athletic, loved sports, and was a member of many sports teams. Alex was a child of God with a generous heart of gold and a kind soul who loved everyone he met. He had a bright smile that would light up a room, loved to laugh and loved a good dessert. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him. Alex’s philosophy was that there is no need to worry about it; that was yesterday and today is today. Once a Farmer always a Farmer, even in Heaven. Go Alex!"
Vaughn Bigelow was an innocent bystander when he was shot to death in Westminster on June 14, 2018.
From the GoFundMe page for Vaughn Bigelow: "On June 14, 2018, Meghan Bigelow was taking her 3 children to a routine dentist appointment when she became apart of a road rage encounter.
"Meghan and 2 of her sons were shot multiple times. Sadly her oldest son (13) passed away June 14."
Cross Justice Goodwin
Cross Justice Goodwin died after a gunshot to the head on July 5, 2018.
From his online obituary: "Cross Justice Goodwin was born on December 28, 2001. He passed from this world on July 5, 2018. He was a son, brother, nephew, cousin, grandson, and friend. He was as big as a giant and as kind as a teddy bear. He gave the best hugs. Cross was insanely quick-witted, wiser than his years, and had an amazing sense of humor. He was kind, gentle, sweet, and stubborn. He knew what he believed and he stood by his convictions. He enjoyed magic, baseball, and fishing. He had the biggest heart. He was a sweetheart. He was creative, inventive, and strong. He was a gift that we didn't get to keep nearly long enough and he will be forever loved by his family and friends."
Luisa Angela Aguilar Olivas
The only information about Luisa Angela Aguilar Olivas's death is that she was shot at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15, 2018, in Littleton and died two days later.
The English translation of Spanish text from her online obituary:
"God gave you your daughter
"For a short time,
"He put a little bit of heaven
"In the glow of his smile.
"He took a little dust from the star
"Brighter I made his eyes bright.
"Now he left again for his home with God,
"To play in the heavens."
Jordan Coleman was fatally shot during an argument in Colorado Springs on August 29, 2018.
Comments from the GunMemorial.org page dedicated to Jordan Coleman:
"Loved his family, football, collection of clothes."
"Had the most beautiful smile."
"He deserves so many roses."
"So young to lose his life over a trivial argument — didn't know his friend had a gun."
Aric Whaley was shot and killed in a park near his home in Loveland on September 4, 2018.
From Aric Whaley's online obituary: "Aric Whaley was born in Adana, Turkey, on February 17, 2001. He was a larger than life kind of person. Kind, caring, loving. Aric was taken from us too soon when he passed away in his home on September 4, 2018. He was the type of person to use his entire paycheck to buy meals for the homeless. Aric always wanted to know how you were doing and if there was anything he could do for you. He spent his days with his fiance Tianna or working at Loveland Fences. If he wasn’t working or at home, he spent his time helping his neighbors with things such as shoveling snow and mowing lawns. Aric gained the trust and respect from his friends, family, and neighbors. He was a strong willed person in the fact that when he was determined to do something he always followed through and there was no chance you would talk him out of it. Aric will be missed dearly. There will always be a joke not told or a song unsung. We will miss his quick wittedness and his well thought out practical jokes."
Khobi Eiland was shot and killed near the intersection of East 29th and Glencoe in Denver on September 7, 2018.
From a Facebook post shared the day Khobi Eiland died: "Khobi, man my heart aches...from the first day I met you I knew that you were someone special! One of my greatest joys in life was to coach/watch you on the basketball court. Natural ability goes a long way, but being coachable takes you even further. The time we spent together as Coach/Player, Dean/Scholar and old man/young man was very special to me, you taught me a lot of things about who I was in each roll of your life. As much as I challenged you, in turn you challenged me.... Thank you for that. Not sorry for being so tough on you.... I knew your potential and it was my obligation to get the best out of you everyday. You had to be one of my favorite young people ever. Gonna miss you lil brother.... Rest easy and I will get to see you hoop again!!!"
Elijah Naranjo was shot and killed on October 25, 2018, in Pueblo.
From a Facebook post about Elijah Naranjo shared on October 26: "Oh son...my heart is gone.... I feel so lost so empty i just want you back!!!
"Just please please come back Elijah Naranjo come back please!!!! Son please.... I love you more than life."
Lohki Bloom died after accidentally shooting himself with a loaded gun left in his Colorado Springs home on October 21, 2018.
Earlier this week, Melissa Adamson, Lohki Bloom's mother, pleaded not guilty to child abuse during an arraignment hearing. Her trial on the charge is currently slated to begin in June. Authorities maintain that Adamson loaded the gun because she'd had an argument with her meth dealer and was afraid he would visit her home.
Luis Starkey Chavez
Luis Starkey Chavez was murdered in Colorado Springs on November 5, 2018.
"Literally, Luis was perfect all the way around. His only flaw is he boasted a little bit," his sister told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "He worked hard. He worked full time. So when he got his paycheck, he’d be quick to kind of flaunt it on Facebook to impress the other teenage girls, you know what I mean?"
He was also a member of Santiago's Boxing Club.
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Erbey Enriquez was fatally shot outside a Colorado Springs club early on January 12, 2019.
An English translation of a comment in Spanish on a GoFundMe page created on behalf of Erbey Enriquez: "Our most important concern is for the whole family. God give them the strength they need in these moments of great sadness."
Police in Colorado Springs have identified 26-year-old Edwin Figueroa as a suspect in the homicide. At this writing, he remains at large.