NEW: "Be happy like Emilio. Smile like him. Laugh like him," his mother says
Emilio Hoffman was killed in the school shooting in Troutdale
He was 14 and a standout soccer player
Friends remember the sweetness beneath a tough persona
The 14-year-old victim of Tuesday’s school shooting in Oregon was a sweet kid who sometimes put on a tough front, friends said.
Emilio Hoffman was shot in a locker room at Reynolds High School in Troutdale.
The motive of the shooter, identified as 15-year-old Jared Padgett, is not known. Padgett died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound elsewhere at the school.
There is no known link between Padgett and Hoffman, authorities said Wednesday.
Almost as soon as the news spread that Hoffman was the victim, a candlelight vigil was quickly organized. Hundreds of students and parents showed up Tuesday night to remember the teen, who was a standout soccer player.
Hoffman’s parents attended. They wept as the mass of people circled around them, trying to comfort them, singing songs of praise and hope.
“Emilio loved his friends, and his friends loved him. To those friends we say – be happy like Emilio. Smile like him. Laugh like him,” his mother, Jennifer Hoffman, said in a statement.
“To the parents out there – Love your kids. Hug your kids every day. And live with no regrets. I don’t have any regrets with Emilio. None. And he knew that,” she said.
Hoffman had one sister and three brothers, plus a number of foster brothers and sisters. He enjoyed science and history, but loved sports – especially soccer.
“He was a sweet boy,” friend Savannah Rowe told CNN. “He acted all cool around his friends, but when you got to know him he was just sweet and always there for you if you needed someone to talk to.”
They got to know each other in middle school, and they were in choir together, Rowe said.
Hoffman “didn’t deserve what he got,” a close friend, Kaylah Ensign, told CNN affiliate KGW.
As soon as the lockdown was lifted, Hoffman was the first person she tried to reach by phone, she said.
When she got no answer, she joined Hoffman’s mother, and together they continued their search. It was then that they learned that the young man had been shot dead.
“I wish I could have said goodbye, or told him how much he meant to me, but I know he knows,” Ensign said.
Hoffman was the person who could make Ensign smile on her hardest days. “He’s just so amazing and great, and it really hurts to know that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and he’s not going to be here,” she said.
Student Cody Gleason was close to where the shooting happened, and he heard and watched it unfold. He heard the shots, which he initially mistook for firecrackers, and then saw people running.
That morning, he was supposed to see Hoffman in a class where he was his teacher’s assistant.
“He was a great kid, I loved him,” Gleason said. “He was always respectful to his teachers. He was a great student.”