Christian “Riley” Garcia is the latest student to show unbelievable heroism and sacrifice during the country’s school shooting epidemic
As the country reels from yet another deadly school shooting — despite the efforts of student protestors to tighten gun laws and end the violence — stories of heroism are emerging from last week’s massacre at Santa Fe High School.
Among the ten people killed during the May 18th shooting was 15-year-old Christian “Riley” Garcia, who survivors say saved lives in the moments before he was gunned down by fellow student, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis.
The Associated Press reports that the student was in art class when the shooting happened — and barricaded a closet door with his body as the shooter approached. He was reportedly shot through the door while protecting his teacher and classmates.
Christian "Riley" Garcia, 15, is being hailed as a hero after he died while blocking an art classroom door to keep other students safe from gunshots during the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, according to his family's pastor https://t.co/YtxO9iiwPc pic.twitter.com/cBN3Pu1GCA
— CNN International (@cnni) May 23, 2018
Garcia described himself as a history junkie. He wanted to join the U.S. Army after graduation. He also loved to water ski, play football, fish, and do anything outdoors.
A 14-year-old freshman, Student Jai Gillard, told the AP that Garcia sat next to her in art class and was always happy and sweet. He had even asked her on a date recently.
Christian Riley Garcia was also 15 years old. He loved to water ski and stay up late for night fishing trips, and had recently shared a photo of himself with a favorite Bible passage, Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God." pic.twitter.com/X7CfVtvrc4— Melanie Schmitz (@MelsLien) May 21, 2018
Garcia and his family attended nearby Crosby Church, and was baptized as a baby by Pastor Keenan Smith. Smith shared the story of Garcia, along with his feelings about the shooting, with CNN.
“That’s not what’s supposed to happen to a 15-year-old’s life that he has to make those decisions,” Smith said. “But he made them without even thinking about it, because it was his heart. This is who he was as an individual.”
Smith said he hoped that Garcia’s bravery would help comfort his family, at least in a way.
“This doesn’t ease the pain any. It doesn’t stop the void that will forever be there, but it does bring a measure of peace,” he said.
The church held a memorial service Monday night for the teen.
Pastor Keenan Smith talking about Christian Riley Garcia, who was a member of Crosby Church since an infant. Garcia was one of ten killed at #SantaFeHighSchool Friday morning. Tonight a memorial prayer service was held for him and all ten victims. @FOX26Houston pic.twitter.com/XzMORAXP0n
— Lindsey Henry FOX 26 (@LindseyFOX26) May 22, 2018
As those in Houston and across the country mourned the eight murdered students, two murdered teachers, and 13 injured, some reflected on the senselessness of these continued school shootings — and how they force young teens like Garcia to make heroic but life-ending decisions when they should simply be making art in art class.
I wish the @NRA would stop forcing kids into situations where they need to be heroes.— The Drag State (@thedragstate) May 23, 2018
According to local police, the shooter entered the school at 7:40 a.m. and targeted two art classrooms. He fired his shotgun into an art supply closet door with student inside, left briefly, and then returned to continue shooting. He then engaged in a shootout with police and surrendered after being wounded.