Over 1,000 mourn Thanksgiving shooting victim at Mount Rainier High School
More than a thousand people gathered at Mount Rainier High School Saturday night to remember 21-year-old Leuea Loto at the spot where he was shot on Thanksgiving Day.
He was home from college and playing a game of pickup football when the shooting happened.
“God is so good, he’s so good,” people sang at the vigil.
“He was very loved,” said Ginger Lotulelei, a family friend.
“He’s always that kid with a smile on his face, he had a big heart,” said Tremain Ferrell Mack, the Mount Rainier High School football coach.
Loto played football here and was playing football at the College of San Mateo near San Francisco.
His coach at Mount Rainier High said he was one of the students who helped revitalize the team.
“From today on, the number 52 jersey will be retired at Mount Rainier so his jersey, his memory, will live on in the hallways of Mount Rainier High School forever,” Mack said.
For hours Saturday night, people spoke highly of Loto. Despite his young age, it was clear that made a deep impression on his community.
Loto was home from college and on Thanksgiving Day and he was playing a game of pickup football at the high school.
An argument broke out. At some point, people drove by – that’s when Loto was shot.
“We thought he’d push through, we’re still waiting for him to push though. My family is waiting,” said one of the dozens of speakers through tears.
His family is now leaning on community and faith to say goodbye to their son.
“Now I am free, now I am free,” people sang.
“Thank you son. It’s a long journey, man. I hope you look down on us,” said his dad, Fale Loto to the crowd.
“I miss my boy. It’s really hard, really hard. Especially with Christmas, the holidays coming. But I know he’s in the right place right now,” his dad said.
Incredibly, the message of the night was love and forgiveness.
“Whoever did this, I tell my family forgive them,” Loto said.
The Des Moines Police Department – they’re still asking for your help.
They tweeted to @DeedeeKIRO7 Saturday night:
Des Moines Police Detectives are asking for help regarding this tragic event on Thanksgiving day at Mt. Rainier High School. Anyone in the area between 11:00 am and noon with info is encouraged to call us. Please call if you live in the area with outdoor cameras. 206-878-3301.
By Deedee Sun, KIRO 7