Who was Luis Garcia? The Latino teen whose death sparked outrage over gun deaths in Colorado and beyond
The 16-year-old, who was on Denver East High School’s varsity soccer team, succumbed to his wounds after a shooting on Feb. 13. His classmates want action.
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On Monday, Feb. 13, the day before Valentine’s Day 2023, 16-year-old Luis Garcia was in his car near Denver East High School around 2:30 p.m., when he was shot by individuals taking aim from a passing car.
The shooting would send the nearby high school into lockdown, and send Garcia to the hospital with a “poor prognosis,” according to Joe Montoya, the division chief of investigations at the Denver Police Department, at the time. Two hours after the shooting, a 17-year-old and 16-year-old would be arrested related to investigations on illegal handgun possession and auto theft, but were not connected with Garcia’s shooting. The investigation is still ongoing to this day.
More than two weeks later, on March 1, Garcia died after he was taken off life support, leaving his family, school and surrounding community in shock.
As The Denver Post would find out upon interviewing Garcia’s family and friends in the aftermath of his death, the 16-year-old was described as “an extremely hard worker” who got good grades in school, excelled on the soccer field, and took up multiple jobs to support his family at home.
“Luis always helps his family in every which way he can,” his brother, Santos Garcia, told The Denver Post in an interview in February.
On the soccer pitch, Garcia was a member of the 5A Colorado State Champion Denver East Angels soccer team. He was a reserve player that saw his squad dispatch Fairview High School 1-0 in the state championship last year.
When news of his shooting reached fellow teammates, they banded together behind his brother Santos to start a GoFundMe and raise money to pay for Luis’ hospital bills. To date, the GoFundMe has raised more than $200,000 to support his family with any expenses.
“There is no place for this type of violence in the world and especially not at school,” reads a portion of the GoFundMe description.
Taking that message to the next level, upon news of Garcia’s death on March 1, his classmates held a vigil outside of Denver East High School on Thursday, March 2.
“Luis was always someone to put in extra effort and always do more than any other player on the field,” a teammate told CBS Colorado on the scene. “It’s not fair for kids to be shot at school… In a place where we’re supposed to be learning, we have to worry about dying.”
On Friday, March 3, students from across Colorado joined Denver East students as they walked out of class to the Colorado State Capitol Building to demand legislators do more to curb gun violence in the state.
"Gun control should not be a partisan issue, it should be bipartisan. Both sides of the aisle should be looking to end gun violence to end the deaths of innocent people," Grant Cramer, a student in attendance at the march, told CBS Colorado.
On a national level, President Joe Biden has touted his Bipartisan Safer Communities Act as a first major legislative step against gun violence in more than two decades. However, it has been debated if the bill would have actually stopped the Uvalde mass shooting that spurred its passage — probably not.
To add more fuel to the fire, since the beginning of 2023, the U.S. has already surpassed 100 mass shootings. The most recent happened on Sunday, March 5, as five people were injured in gunfire on San Pedro Beach in California.