Friday, May 17, 2013 | 1 a.m.
They came in droves with teary eyes and sniffling noses to Firefighters Memorial Park Friday night to remember 15-year-old Marcos Arenas.
More than 150 in all — high school classmates and family alike — gathered on the grass field carrying unlit prayer candles and not saying a word, the only noise coming from muffled sobs and whispered condolences. They prayed and cried, trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy.
The day before, two men killed Marcos Arenas in an attempt to steal his iPad, Metro Police officials said. Arenas had refused to let go of the device, even as the man dragged him to the car. He held on, fighting until the end when the car drove off, pulling him underneath the wheels.
Ivan Arenas, Marcos’ father, broke the silence first. He had given Marcos the iPad for his birthday on March 20. It was the first gift he felt he finally got right, and Marcos cherished it. His voice wavered as he blinked back tears talking about his son.
“I’m going to miss him greatly. He never quit fighting; he fought until the last minute, the last second,” Ivan Arenas said. “I’m going to try to do the same and carry on. It’s not easy, but to know people are here for my baby, warms my heart.”
For more than an hour, friends and family stepped forward sharing memories about Marcos Arenas and pleading for justice.
Marcos Arenas was the oldest of 10 children; the mature one Ivan Arenas could count on to pick him up when life became tough. He played wide receiver and defensive back on the freshman football team at Bonanza High School. He sang in honor’s choir and loved to box. He was going to be a football player or boxer when he grew up, and if that didn’t work out, maybe a Marine.
“I just wish he was here,” said Tabitha Guertler, who at one time was Marcos’ stepmom, after the vigil. “I knew he had friends, but I don’t think I realized how many he had.”
He was also stubborn like most teenagers, always having to prove he was right in an argument. Skyler Chavez, Marcos’ ex-girlfriend, said they had their share of fights, but what she’ll always remember is how he put his family first.
“When we first started dating, one of the first things he said to me was ‘My family always comes first, and I know that,’” Chavez said.
Near the end, a group of Marcos’ former choir classmates from middle school formed a circle and began to sing. The words to Bruno Mars’ love ballad “Just the Way You Are,” floated into the air softly at first, and then louder, stronger.
“There’s not a thing I would change//’cause you’re amazing//just the way you are.”
Then more joined in, singing in Marcos Arenas' memory.