Luis Garcia, shot near Denver’s East High, still in critical condition

The family of a student shot near the campus of Denver’s East High School this week is keeping vigil at the teen’s hospital bedside and struggling with a simple question: Who would commit such a heinous act?

“It is such a nightmare for everyone. It came out of the blue,” said Santos Garcia, 18, the older brother of Luis Garcia. “Who would ever hurt him?”

Luis, 16, is a junior at East, where he competes on the varsity soccer team. He maintains good grades and has worked several jobs, including at McDonald’s, as a way to help support and contribute to his family, Santos Garcia said in an interview at Denver Health on Thursday evening.

“He’s an extremely hard worker,” Santos said. “Luis always helps his family in every which way he can. He wants to make Mom and Dad proud of him.”

Luis was shot on Monday near East 17th Avenue and City Park Esplanade. He was sitting in his car outside the school at the time, according to a GoFundMe fundraising campaign established to help the family. The incident led to a brief lockdown at East on Monday afternoon.

Luis remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Santos, who graduated from East in 2022, has been accepted to the University of Colorado. He plans to pursue a medical career.

“I’m in shock. I’m just trying to be there for our family,” Santos said.

Denver police took two Denver Public Schools students into custody Monday, although officials said they did not know the motive for the shooting.

A 17-year-old is being investigated for illegal possession of a handgun, and a 16-year-old is being investigated for auto theft and felony eluding. Neither has been arrested on charges related to the shooting itself, police said Tuesday. Neither of the two attends East. Their names were not released because they are juveniles.

The Denver East soccer team started the GoFundMe campaign in support of Luis.

“As a team, we want to support Luis and his family financially during this time of tragedy,” the page says. “We want to give them a chance to focus only on the well-being of their beloved son and not the price of medical bills.”

Kirk Bast, Denver East varsity soccer coach, described Luis as a coach’s dream, an excellent player who works hard and loves the game.

“He cares tremendously about his teammates and what is best for the team,” Bast said. “It’s crazy. Talk about a good kid who didn’t deserve this.”

Santos describes Luis as being very popular at East with “lots of friends.”

Police continue to investigate the shooting. Anyone with information on the incident or on a suspect is asked to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers 720-913-7867 (STOP).

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