A popular high school cheerleader was shot and killed over the weekend at the age of 17 just as she was leaving a house party in Phoenix.
Desiree Rivas died just after midnight on Sunday. According to local Fox affiliate KSAZ, officers found her outside an apartment building near 91st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road with a gunshot wound and nothing more. No arrests were made in the shooting.
“Desiree was a beloved member of our student body and an active member of our spiritual lineage,” Cesar Chavez High School wrote in a Facebook post Monday mourning the teen’s tragic death. “She will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her. Desiree died after being the victim of a senseless act of violence last weekend. She loved her fellow students and was a compassionate and caring member of our student community.”
Her cheering team also shared words via social media.
“It is with the deepest heart that I post the tragic loss of our amazing friend, athlete and student Desiree,” wrote the CCHS Spirit Line on Instagram. “Our hearts are broken into a million pieces. Additional advisors will be on campus tomorrow to help all of us process this tremendous loss. May Dessy rest in peace and be surrounded by love and light. We love you, Desiree.”
A neighbor who claimed to have heard gunshots on the night of the murder said that multiple shots were fired and that the hail of bullets sounded like they were moving – and that the location of the shots appeared to have changed over time changed, according to the Arizona Republic. The neighbor’s name was not mentioned in the newspaper.
“She had friends who stayed behind and helped her and I was with her,” the anonymous neighbor reportedly said. “We couldn’t sleep at all last night. I couldn’t sleep at all. I kept thinking about the mother and what she was going through.”
In an interview with KSAZ, neighbor April Stokes gave more details about the shooting and its immediate aftermath.
“I heard five shots, maybe six, two different guns, you know. It sounded pretty close,” she told the TV network, later adding, “I saw these guys — who looked like teenagers — running from across the street. From one house to another.”
Stokes said it was unclear whether the two figures she saw running into the night fled in fear or because they had fired shots.
Dozens of parishioners attended a vigil in Cesar Chavez Park Monday night in honor of the murdered girl.
“She touched so many people,” her father, Danny Rivas, said at the vigil in a comment reported by KXAS. “I mean, you never know what relationships are like in school. They come home and they don’t talk about it because they’re doing homework and stuff. That improved my mood a little. I need to get through this week to make sure everything goes well for her because I want to send her away properly.”
According to the Republic, investigators reportedly have no suspect in the girl’s murder.
In local CBS affiliate KPNX’s coverage of the memorial service, Danny Rivas recalled his daughter as “a beautiful person and an amazing soul.” The grieving father added: “She was a role model for everyone. She was one of those people you wanted to be with.”
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