Denver East High School student dies weeks after shooting near school

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-02 11:15:00-05

DENVER — A 16-year-old East High School student who was shot near the school last month died Wednesday, the teen’s family confirmed to Denver7.

Luis Garcia was shot while inside a parked car near the school on the afternoon of Feb. 13. He was taken to the hospital with a "very poor prognosis" and died Wednesday at Denver Health after a 17-day fight for his life.

His older brother, Santos, described Luis as the "best, loving, caring person."

“I want people to know that he was strong,” Santos said of his brother’s fight for life in the hospital. “He fought. I mean, he’s done what he’s always done.”

Shortly after the incident and following a police pursuit, two suspects were taken into custody in the area of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Elmira Street.

The suspects — a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy — were in a stolen Kia Sportage which crashed and ended upside down during the pursuit. Their names have not been released.

The motive for the shooting is not known.

Luis was described as a passionate soccer player, who always worked hard and made others laugh. His teammates have been raising money for his family through a GoFundMe, and wearing wristbands with his jersey number to honor him.  They are now calling on school and city leaders to act on school safety and gun violence.

“Our plan for the future is just to advocate for gun safety and advocate for this to not happen again,” sophomore Clayton Thomas said.  “This shouldn’t be happening, and it’s becoming too normal.”

Gun violence at the Denver high school was addressed during city council meeting on Feb. 16. A group of students called for enhanced cameras and security measures, school resource officers, and limited access to campus during school hours to start.

Santos hopes the community remembers Luis by fighting for safer schools.

“We should obviously end gun violence, because it’s taking people’s lives that are more important than we could possibly imagine,” Santos said.

On Friday morning, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued a statement on Luis' passing, which you can read in full below.

“Luis Garcia’s death is tragedy that should never have occurred in our city, and I join all of Denver in expressing my deep condolences to Luis’ family during this unimaginably difficult time. His family, friends and classmates should be spending a normal day with him today, not mourning his death. We have a choice in what type of society we want to be, and this cannot be it. We cannot accept that easy access to guns is more important to us than our children’s lives and safety. Our children’s lives and safety are not the price of freedom, and we will never accept that they are.

“Since the shooting, our police department has been partnering with East High School to provide supportive services and increased safety at the school, and met with school leadership to discuss strategies to address student and parent concerns of safety. Liaison officers have also been identified in each Patrol District around the city and directed to engage with all middle and high schools in their areas to identifying immediate and long-term safety concerns and partnership opportunities that may not have existed previously.

“We will bring increased vigilance and efforts to stop criminal behavior, particularly among our youth, and gun violence. And we need our residents and youth to report illegal behavior to our police department before that behavior escalates into yet another tragedy.”

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