Horizon High School Holds Sunset Memorial for Teenager Killed In El Paso Shooting: He 'Was Just a Young Man Full of Life'

Hundreds of people crowded into the bleachers and onto the football field at Horizon High School in El Paso on Monday to pay their respects to Javier Rodriguez, a 15-year-old student who had just begun his sophomore year when he was killed in Saturday's shooting attack.

Photos posted on social media show mourners hoisting up flashlights from the bleachers, while a band plays as images of Javier play across a projection screen set up on the field.

Javier's parents and sister were welcomed onto the stage, where they released a single white dove into the night sky.

The moment was followed with the release of 21 more doves, each marking one of the other 21 lives lost in Saturday's mass shooting.

"Your presence we miss. Your memory we treasure. Loving you always. Forgetting you never," a flyer for the memorial reads, along with the hashtag "#ScorpionsStrong," referring to the school's sports team name.

According to local media reports, Javier had been with his uncle Octavio Lizarde when he was struck by the bullets that saw the 15-year-old and 21 others killed.

Lizarde was among at least two dozen others injured and had to be hospitalized after he suffered a gunshot wound to the foot.

According to Reuters, his nephew had been just one week into his sophomore year at Horizon High School, where he played on the soccer team.

"Javier was just a young man full of life, running in this same stadium we're in now," Juan Martinez, superintendent of the Clint Independent School District outside El Paso reportedly said at the vigil for the teenager. "He didn't deserve to die in a tragedy like this."

Former Texas Representative and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke also spoke at the vigil, asserting that Javier's life should be seen as "an expression of the hope we now have in one another."

Noting that Javier's uncle was also among those wounded in the attack, O'Rourke stressed that "this violence, this hatred will not define this community, nor will it define the Rodriguez family."

Authorities have said they are investigating Saturday's attack as a hate crime, given the racist and anti-immigrant manifesto believed to have been penned by the shooter in the lead-up to the attack.

In the text, which was posted to website 8chan, the author railed against the Hispanic and immigrant communities, branding the presence of Hispanic people in Texas an "invasion."

Horizon High School vigil
Mourners embrace at a vigil honoring Horizon High School sophomore Javier Amir Rodriguez, who lost his life in a mass shooting in nearby El Paso, on August 5, 2019 in Horizon City, Texas. Mario Tama/Getty