Quentin Smith candlelight vigil to remember East High alum who got his wings too soon

This past weekend, Quentin Smith, 21, died in a drive-by shooting on North Pontiac Street, just blocks from the spot where Jordan Nelson died in December. Tonight, Smith's friends and loved ones will gather on the campus of East High School, from which he graduated in 2007, for a candlelight vigil. "East's mascot is the Angels," notes organizer Michaela Jones. "When somebody from our school dies, it's our tradition to say they received their wings."

Jones attended drama classes at East with Smith, and she recalls that "the Quentin I knew was a pretty cool guy with a really good sense of humor. Every time you were around him, by the time the conversation was over, you were laughing. You'd never see him frowning. If you look at the pictures you'll see at the vigil tonight, you'll always see him smiling.

"He had a lot of different friends in a lot of different places, because you took to him immediately. And he was very polite; he treated you with respect. I don't know why he had to go out like that -- why somebody would take somebody like that away from us. His death really affected a lot of people."

After graduating from high school, Jones says Smith took some accounting classes at Community College of Denver and later studied at Community College of Aurora. Most recently, he worked at a King Soopers, where she expects he brightened the lives of employees and customers alike.

As for the message she'd like to send with the vigil, she says, "It's about community awareness. The community is the place where we're going to school, going to work, the place we come back to at night -- and if we're leaving bad people in our neighborhood because we don't want to snitch on them, they may not be hurting people right then, but eventually they're going to get to you. Those kind of people terrorize, they infect other people's lives with their cruelty, and eventually they hit somebody close to you."

Those who'd like to participate in the vigil should start gathering at 5:30 p.m. at the big red "E" on the East grounds. "We're going to honor Quentin's life," Jones says. "It was a privilege being his friend. Once an angel, always an angel."

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "East High Angels are flying high in Denver."

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