Friends and family gathered Sunday afternoon at Kensington Park in Longmont to remember the 13-year-old boy who was killed in a drive-by shooting at the park Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day, police announced they had made an arrest in the shooting.
Family members at the informal service asked for time and space to grieve, and residents across the street from the park declined to speak out of respect for the mother of the victim, who had not yet arrived at the event.
Sunday morning, Longmont police announced that they had arrested 19-year-old Yahir Solis just before 11 p.m. Saturday. Police had obtained an arrest warrant for the Lafayette resident on charges of first degree murder and attempted first degree murder. A 15-year-boy sustained a gunshot wound to the leg in the shooting.
Marta Moreno, a longtime community member and a former director of El Comité, attended the service. As she approached the basketball courts where youths and adults laid flowers, candles, and a bouquet of red heart balloons, she recalled two young Latino men who were shot and killed by a police officer almost 42 years ago to the day of Saturday’s shooting.
“If this city came together in 1980 for the boys on that memorial,” she said pointing to the mosaic sculpture at the entrance of the park, “Longmont can come together today.”
Moreno said members of the Latino community are already planning to have a conversation with the mayor and other leaders to discuss supporting the community’s Latino youths.
There was no obvious police presence at Sunday’s gathering. Robin Ericson, communications and marketing manager for the Longmont Police Department, said the district attorney’s office would be releasing more information about the shooting on Monday. Erickson would not comment on the motive in the shooting in the immediate aftermath to give family and friends of the victim “time to grieve and gather.”
Around the block from the basketball courts where the shooting occurred, neighbors gathered in front lawns and talked over fences, discussing theories about the shooting, and their personal connections to the victims.
Lifelong resident Mary Ortiz said the sound of gunfire was never as familiar as it is now. Something has to change, she said, because there is already chatter about retaliation for the shooting and there was a tangible fear for safety among the residents.
“It’s going to take something very strong to make a change in the lives of these kids,” said Ortiz. “Nowadays it’s got to take a really strong voice that they’re going to want to hear, and they’re going to take interest in, who they can relate to, in order for things to change.”
The identity of the teen who died has not yet been released by the Boulder County Coroner’s Office.
After Solis was transported to the Boulder County Jail on Saturday night, police found that he had two active warrants for his arrest — one for a traffic offense and the other for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Anyone with information or who may have surveillance video from the area is asked to call the Longmont Public Safety tip line at 303-774-3700 and reference Longmont case No. 22-7223.