Family and friends of slain teenager David Sandoval release white balloons following a service at Bible Baptist Church on W. Casino Road in Everett to honor his life on Tuesday evening. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Family and friends of slain teenager David Sandoval release white balloons following a service at Bible Baptist Church on W. Casino Road in Everett to honor his life on Tuesday evening. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

During a short life, this shooting victim made a difference

Mariner High freshman David Sandoval, 14, is remembered as a devoted friend, volunteer and jokester.

EVERETT — Students at Explorer Middle School had the day off from school but David Sandoval came in anyway. He wanted to catch up on his homework.

He was so proud when he earned an A in math. His teacher can remember the smile.

David’s former middle school teachers shared their memories Tuesday as family and friends gathered at the Bible Baptist Church on W. Casino Road to mourn the 14-year-old boy.

“Our hearts are broken alongside yours,” Pastor Bobby Gall said.

David, a freshman at Mariner High School, was shot to death Oct. 4 less than two miles from the church. The alleged shooter is a 13-year-old boy who picked a fight over the color of David’s shoes. The boy is charged with second-degree murder.

David didn’t deserve to die, a young friend said Tuesday.

His friends took turns sharing stories about David with a sanctuary full of people.

He was a jokester, who could make his football teammates laugh even when they lost a game. He’d convince friends to take photograph after photograph of him just to get the right pose. He teased people he loved. He seemed to make friends wherever he went and he treated those friends like family.

“He wasn’t the kind of person who would leave you low if you were having a bad day,” said a girl who met David in the seventh grade.

David was a faithful volunteer at Hand in Hand, a nonprofit on W. Casino Road that serves foster children. He saw the value in helping kids who have it rough. He knew good came from giving back to his neighborhood.

The area has been hit hard by gun violence in recent years. Social service groups there have worked hard to reach out to young people and their parents. More needs to be done, said Todd McNeal, the executive director of Hand in Hand.

The suspected shooter, who was being raised by his grandmother, had run away from home. He had been camping out with another young person. He told police he got the gun from a 12-year-old friend. Witnesses told police the suspect was hanging out with a south Everett gang. They believe he’d been recently initiated or planned to be jumped in soon.

The 13-year-old allegedly pointed the handgun at multiple people before killing David. He told other teens he planned to shoot someone. He said he wanted to be known as “lil shooter.”

About an hour before he was killed, David and friends were watching a football game at Explorer Middle School. Witnesses told police the 13-year-old confronted David about the color of his shoes. He pulled a gun, pointing it at David. Other teens diffused the situation and the 13-year-old walked away.

David left the game to meet another friend at Walden Ponds Apartments. He crossed paths with the 13-year-old. Neighbors heard the gunshot. David died at the hospital.

The 13-year-old led police to the 9mm handgun. It was wrapped in a blue bandana.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge Tuesday morning. He remains held on $100,000 cash-only bail. A trial is scheduled for Oct. 31. His grandmother and brother attended the hearing, waving at him as he was escorted into the courtroom.

David’s parents stood shoulder to shoulder in silence with family and friends Tuesday as their son’s coffin was driven from the church.

It was dusk and the October air was crisp. The mourners held onto white balloons. They released them into the evening sky. Some held on a little longer, not ready to let go.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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