PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The graduating senior class of Oregon’s Reynolds High School held a moment of silence for freshman Emilio Hoffman, who was shot and killed earlier this week on campus.
The seniors had finished classes a week earlier, and most weren’t on campus when the shooting happened Tuesday. But they shared an emotional moment as Hoffman’s older brother, Joshua Mitchell, walked across the stage at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night.
He was wearing Emilio’s soccer jersey, school spokeswoman Andrea Watson said.
Classmates stood and cheered and many made “I love you” signs with their hands, The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/SFOpX0) reported.
The gunman, 15-year-old freshman Jared Michael Padgett, was found dead in a bathroom. Police said it appeared he shot himself after killing Hoffman. They haven’t described a motive.
Graduation speakers mentioned Tuesday’s shooting only briefly. Todd Rispler, the physical education teacher who alerted administrators to the shooter’s whereabouts after being grazed by a bullet, sat quietly at the back of the arena.
“Please celebrate loud, celebrate proud so all can hear,” Principal Wade Bakley told students. “Including Emilio.”
Beforehand, Dianne Van Arsdall smiled as she snapped photos of her family outside the coliseum and said she was focused on her granddaughter’s success.
“I don’t feel guilty for being happy,” she said. “I’m proud of my granddaughter, and I’m thankful we’re all here and safe. It could have happened to any family.”
Linda Florence, superintendent of what is Oregon’s second-largest school district with 2,700 students, said in her speech that students had come together to share sorrow.
“Tonight,” she said, “it’s just as fitting to share each other’s joy.”
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com