Hundreds gather in Roxborough for vigil following deadly shooting

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File photo: Hundreds gathered at Gorgas Park Thursday for a prayer vigil following Tuesday's deadly shooting at Roxborough High School. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

File photo: Hundreds gathered at Gorgas Park Thursday for a prayer vigil following Tuesday's deadly shooting at Roxborough High School. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

The community of Roxborough gathered at Gorgas Park Thursday evening to grieve and pray following Tuesday’s deadly shooting near Roxborough High School.

Chaplains and pastors were there to aid those grieving in the community through prayer at the park next to the school.

Community members were lit only by candlelight as the sunset Thursday evening. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

The shooting has deeply affected the community, showcasing the widespread impact of gun violence as the city approaches record-high homicides in a year.

Students have been dealing with the tragedy since it took place. Budd Reigner’s son is a ninth grader at Roxborough High School and he hasn’t been in class following the deadly incident.

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Candles were distributed ahead of the prayer vigil at Gorgas Park on Sep. 29, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Reigner himself was at the scene and discussed the deadly shooting with his son, revealing the tough lessons they’ve learned after their experiences.

“You have to understand in life, you yourself must understand that son, God doesn’t promise tomorrow,” Reigner said. “That’s why you gotta live every day, enjoy every day, live every day to its fullest. Make people happy, smile, accomplish good things. Treat people with respect, treat people the way you want to be treated. And you do that, you’ll wake up tomorrow for God’s blessing to walk His green earth one more day.”

Melisa Wolfson is a business teacher at the school and has lived in the neighborhood for a decade. She said still can’t believe the incident took place earlier this week, but she believes the neighborhood will come together to heal.

“I’ve got to believe that things will get better because honestly, I just can’t see things getting any worse right now, especially in this neighborhood,” Wolfson said. “My heart goes out to all of the families, everybody that’s been affected.

During the vigil, donations were made to the family of 14-year-old Nicolas Elizalde, who was killed in the shooting.

Some attendees made donations to the family of the 14-year-old victim, Nicolas Elizalde. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

On Tuesday, police say five shooters waited for roughly six minutes to ambush students following football scrimmages at Roxborough High School. The shooting killed 14-year-old Nicolas Elizalde, of suburban Havertown, and left four others injured. Police say they recovered around five dozen shell casings from the scene.

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A video of the shooting released by Philadelphia Police shows what investigators believe was a targeted attack.

Wednesday evening police recovered what they believe to be the Ford Explorer used in the ambush in a parking lot along the 6100 block of Passyunk Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia.

Classes were in session at all three schools Wednesday and staff from the district’s Emergency/Crisis Response Team, a school-based team of social workers, and counselors were on hand to support students.

Hundreds gathered at Gorgas Park Thursday for a prayer vigil following Tuesday’s deadly shooting at Roxborough High School. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Classes were also in session at Boys’ Latin, a charter school in West Philadelphia whose football team participated in the scrimmage, though all sports practices and competitions were canceled for the day.

At a press conference before the start of the school year, Chief of School Safety Kevin Bethel said the 2021-22 school year saw nearly 700 incidents of gun violence, 304 of which involved active students. At least 119 young people under the age of 22 were killed.

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