Students at Leestown Middle School are coping with the death of a 14-year-old who was shot and killed Thanksgiving night on Henton Road.
Angel Juarez was shot Thursday night when he answered the door of his house in Lexington. Kevin J. Garcia, 23, was arrested Friday in West Virginia and was charged with his murder, Lexington police said.
Monday was the first day back to school for Leestown Middle School students after the holiday.
“Angel was very outgoing, and to say that we are heartbroken is an understatement,” Principal Cynthia Lawson said. “Leestown is very much a family, and every one of these 900 students that walk through our doors, we treat them just like they’re ours, because they are for seven hours a day.”
Fayette County Public Schools officials said a crisis team of grief counselors was at the school to help students process what happened. Angel attended the school from sixth grade until he transferred to another school in the district about a month ago.
“It helped us this morning when we met with the crisis team because we started out with lots of tears, but then we ended up with some funny stories,” Lawson said. “And that made us all feel better.”
Angel will be remembered for his smile and outgoing personality, said Jill Sutton, who taught Angel for two years
“He was just Mr. Personality. He’d crack jokes, but he’d be appropriate about it. He didn’t take it to the class clown level, but just a funny, witty guy,” Sutton said.“He added a lot to each classroom that he was in.”
Angel’s death came as a shock to many of the faculty and students at the school, vice principal Joe Gibson said.
“I think that our students, especially today, they didn’t know how to process this,” Gibson said. “They started with silence, then it led to them talking about Angel and remembering the good times and the fun times and the big smile that he always had on his face.”
Angel loved his family, his friends and his teachers, Sutton said. He spent much of his time playing basketball in his neighborhood.
“He had so much potential, he had the world at his fingertips,” Sutton said. “He was smart, he was athletic, he was cute, he was bi-lingual, I mean he could have been anything, and he had it taken away from him.”
Embrace United Methodist Church is accepting donations to help Angel’s family with funeral expenses. Donations can be made at Embraceyourcity.com.