EVERETT — David Sandoval-Hilarios, 14, lined and measured soccer fields. He made sure everything was ready for young athletes to play.
He volunteered weekly at Hand in Hand, an organization on E. Casino Road that helps children entering the foster care system. Kids stay at the nonprofit’s temporary shelters while awaiting placement in more permanent homes.
“David was a very special boy who was loved dearly,” said Todd McNeal, executive director with Hand in Hand.
Everett police have called the shooting gang-related. Another boy, 13, allegedly confronted David in a south Everett area school that day. He had spotted David’s shoes and flashed a gun, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The teens ran into each other about an hour later at Walden Pond Apartments along 12th Avenue West. The 13-year-old said David and his friend challenged him about his gang affiliation, according to court records.
David was shot in the chest. The suspect was arrested for investigation of second-degree murder. Prosecutors have until Monday to file charges.
The suspect told police he had borrowed the gun from a 12-year-old friend. Everett police continue to investigate where that child got the handgun.
McNeal believes David was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was intelligent and a bit of a practical joker, McNeal said. He had just started his freshman year at Mariner High School.
“People jump to conclusions because he was a minority in a poor neighborhood,” McNeal said. “He was a great kid who came from a loving family.”
Everett has been plagued by gun violence for more than a year; much of it has involved young people.
There have been more than 35 shootings in the city since December. Most of those have been attributed to gangs warring in south Everett, inside and outside city limits.
McNeal was reminded of Anthony Camacho, a 17-year-old who lost his life in 2015. Camacho died in a shooting that was spurred by rivalry between south Everett gangs. The teen was not in a gang, but had friends who were members. He was at a house party during the gunfire.
The shooting had been a means of retaliation. Earlier that day, two carloads of rival gang members had chased the shooter.
“It was wrong place, wrong time,” McNeal said.
David started donating his time at Hand in Hand last spring. The boy spent every Friday there. When he wasn’t wrestling or playing football, he would stop by after school Tuesdays and Thursdays, too.
David helped with a soccer program for kindergartners and first-graders at Horizon Elementary School. Their families are invited to watch and root from the sidelines.
David didn’t mind the behind-the-scenes work. He took out the trash and tended to the play fields. McNeal said he wasn’t looking for credit for his work.
“I think for him it was the fact that something he was working on was helping kids,” he said. “He was a good boy.”
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org