‘This child will be missed’: Family and friends gather to mourn the death of a Calgary teenager shot dead last week

Nearly 150 friends and family gathered at the edge of a pond near Arbor Meadows Close in northwest Calgary on Thursday night to mourn the death of Grade 10 student Jal Acor Jal, who was shot last week.

Family members stood behind a memorial made of candles and flowers to honor the 16-year-old, while Jal’s uncle, Pastor Joseph Jal, said a prayer.

Classmates and teachers from St. Francis High School and members of the community gathered in a semicircle, wiping away tears and consoling one another as the sun set behind them.

“I can’t even describe the pain each of us is feeling,” Akeir Kuol, Jal’s aunt, told CBC.

Jal Acor Jal was in grade 10 at St. Francis High School and described by his family as a talented athlete with a bright future ahead of him. (Submitted by Akeir Kuol)

She said Jal’s death was shocking and heartbreaking for the whole family, but especially for his grandmother – who Jal lived with in Calgary’s Dalhousie neighborhood – and his mother and father.

On March 31, police say Jal was shot and found dead by first responders in a green space in Arbor Lake, northwest Calgary, around 8:30 p.m.

Police have charged a 15-year-old boy, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, with second degree murder. He is expected to appear in court on April 28.

Friends and family made a memorial with flowers and candles to honor Jal. (Oseremen Irete / Radio-Canada)

Jal’s family is still trying to figure out what happened before he died.

“The saddest thing is that we don’t know why he died,” Kuol said.

“He was always happy,” says a friend

Jal was a student at St. Francis High School, where he played on the basketball and football teams.

Regina Okado, a friend, had gone to school with Jal since elementary school. She said he treated her “like his little sister”.

Regina Okado, a friend of Jal, said that “seeing [Jal’s] face every day, he was always happy. (Oseremen Irete / Radio-Canada)

“I watched him grow from this sweet little boy to a very big, genuine, happy boy — a man actually. And he was a very, very independent, genuine, sweet guy,” Okado said.

“If you needed him to back you up, he would. He was a real one.”

Students, teachers, family and friends gathered Thursday night to mourn Jal’s death. Regina Okado, a friend of Jal, says people will remember him as a good athlete and teammate, and for having a good attitude. (Oseremen Irete / Radio-Canada)

Okado said people will remember him as a good athlete and teammate, and for his good attitude.

She will regret “seeing his face every day, he was always happy”.

Okado said she will mostly remember his laughter and the fun they had during a water fight.

“It’s something I’ll forever cherish in my heart. It’s something I’ll never forget. I feel like it was our best time together.”

“This kid will be missed,” says his aunt

Seeing so many people come together to remember Jal says a lot about who he was, Kuol says.

“It says this kid was doing everything he could to succeed in life, to do everything he was taught to do – go to school, train, listen to his parents, take permission to out. He did everything, yet he left,” she said.

“So to see all of the coaches, all of the students, all of the community, being here, sending love, support – not just hugs and kisses – but also financially, it just means we will miss this kid. .”