Former teacher remembers Denver girl killed at Mexican nightclub as 'a go-getter'

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 21:06:09-05

DENVER – A former teacher of the 18-year-old Denver woman killed in a shooting at a Mexican nightclub Sunday remembered her former student fondly Tuesday in an interview with Denver7.

Alejandra Villanueva, 18, died in the shooting at the club in Playa del Carmen, which killed at least four others and injured at least 12.

The shooting happened during an electronic music festival, The BPM Festival, that had brought people from across the world to the beach resort.

“It is very hard to believe as I look at her picture.  In fact at first, I didn't think it was her, I thought that's not my Alejandra,” said her middle school teacher Carrie A. Olson.   "It wasn't until I saw on Facebook I saw some of my former students commenting, that I realized, that's the Alejandra that I knew."

Olsen was a teacher at Kepner Middle School in Denver and led a class trip to Washington, D.C. She remembers Alejandra for her curiosity and hard work, sweeping floors and selling burritos to raise money for the trip to the capitol. 

"She believed in herself, she believed in what we offered and she was a go-getter," said Olson.

"You see possibilities for life, that you can make your dreams come true.  And that's one of the things I remember most about Alejandra is her blossoming after the trip," she said.

Villanueva’s brother, Robert Aaron Martinez, confirmed Monday his sister had died in the shooting.

“She was very lovable. Very artistic. She loved art,” Martinez said, adding that his sister was excited about the trip.

“The night before she left she was at my house, and we were having dinner and we were talking about how she was going to come back and she was going to tell me about her trip and everything she did over there," her brother said. "I didn’t know it was going to be the last time I would see her.” 

A GoFundMe page Martinez started said Villanueva was in college and working, and that she helped provide for her ill mother and younger siblings.

“If there’s any way that anybody can help us, we’re just trying to figure out how we’re going to bring my sister back. We just want to say the last goodbye and see her for the last time,” said Martinez.


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.