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A year after Luis Garcia’s murder near East High School, family still looking for a ‘scintilla of justice’

Family attorney says “a case has been presented” to the Denver DA’s office
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Posted at 1:41 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 22:46:10-05

DENVER – The family of a teenage boy gunned down near East High School a year ago gathered Tuesday to remember a happy kid whose life was taken too soon as they continued seeking answers in his murder.

Speaking through tears during a news conference alongside a family attorney, Santos Garcia said the past year has been very tough on the family, who continues to mourn the death of 16-year-old Luis Garcia.

The teen was inside a parked car near the school on the afternoon of February 13, 2023, when he was shot at around 2:30 p.m. that day. He was taken to the hospital with a "very poor prognosis" and died at Denver Health after a 17-day fight for his life.

“We miss him a lot,” Santos Garcia, Luis’ father, said during the news conference. “We miss a lot of things. We were always a normal family but now everything’s changed for us.”

Santos reminisced about the last time he saw his son alive during Super Bowl weekend in early 2023, a day before the shooting, and said life hasn’t been the same ever since his son’s passing.

“Right now is very hard because we always celebrate. We celebrate everything in Mexican culture,” Santos said. “We don’t need an excuse to party, but now… my family… we don’t do anything anymore. We’re not listening to music because we remember Luis. His dancing. His singing. Everything changed for us.”

No new details about what led to the shooting that day have been released, which is why several members of Luis’ family and the family’s attorney again urged anyone with information to come forward.

A year after Luis Garcia’s death near East HS, family still looking for justice

“I'm asking the community directly – I am talking to you directly now: Whatever is holding you back, whatever you might be afraid of, whatever issue you think may come of you for reporting or saying something, whatever it is… it is absolutely never too late to do the right thing,” said attorney Matthew Barringer. “This family did nothing – their son did nothing – to deserve this horrific act, this murder in front of his own high school.”

Barringer told news reporters in attendance that a lawsuit against DPS, district leaders and the city in which the family accuses them of negligence for failing to protect students – including by removing armed police from East High, is still pending as his office does not want to impede or hinder the police investigation in this case.

The family’s attorney also revealed Tuesday that “a case has been presented to the Denver District Attorney’s Office for its consideration,” alluding that a possible suspect may have been found in Luis’ death. When pressed by Denver7 about that statement, Barringer said questions would have to go to the Denver DA’s office.

At the time of the teen’s death, School Resource Officers, more commonly known as SROs, were still not allowed on campus. But following Luis’ death, along with the death of another student at East High who was suspected of shooting two school administrators about a month after Luis was shot, the district reversed course and SROs came back to several campuses across the district.

“The last time I went to the school, I saw a police car. I felt happy with that. They have guys in the front,” Santos said Tuesday. “I feel happy for the students, but why did they do that after everything happened? If they had that (patrol) car, those guys right there, my son would have still been alive.”

Mayor Mike Johnston and other city officials, including Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero, were invited to the Tuesday news conference to talk about the case and what DPS is doing now to protect students, but no one showed up.

All the Garcia family wants, their attorney said, is a “scintilla of justice, a scintilla of closure.”

“Luis was very special to us. It’s sad that we’re here, but you ask what we’re looking for now? We just want no more families to go through what we’ve had to go through,” Santos said.

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