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Southwest Rochester neighborhood in mourning after 12-year-old killed in shooting

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Dominique Morrison hugs a family member of 12-year-old Juan Lopez who was shot and killed Monday evening on Atkinson Street near Reynolds Street. Morrison, who lives across the street from where the homicide took place was out lighting candles to show respect for the slain child when family members arrived.

Neighbors have started assembling a vigil on Atkinson Street in southwest Rochester where 12-year-old Juan Lopez was shot dead on Monday evening, a few days before Thanksgiving

Lashana Barnes, 30, lights candles for Juan, a 7th grader who attended Benjamin Franklin Educational Campus on Norton St.

“We put the visual together, a little remembrance of him,” she says.

Barnes doesn’t know the Lopez family personally but says she felt compelled to do something for the child and his mother.

“We care because all of us are mothers,” she says. “I just wanted to let her know that we care."

Further down the street are Juan’s aunt and uncle. A young kid hops around between their feet, playing in the grass. Barnes tells them she came with her friend to show respect.

“We just decided to come on here and do him a visual and stuff for him,” Barnes says.

“Thank you,” says Juan's aunt.

“I appreciate it so much,” his uncle says.

“No problem. I’m sending my condolences to you guys,” Barnes says.

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Lashana Barnes lights candles where 7th-grader Juan Lopez was shot and killed Monday evening on Atkinson Street near Reynolds Street. Barnes and her friend, Dominique Morrison say they wanted to show respect for the slain child and his family.

Barnes friend, Dominique Morrison, hugs Juan's relatives. Morrison grew up here, and now she raises her two children here. Across the street is her grandma’s house.

“I literally came home and everything was blocked off,.” Morrison says. “I have kids. I'm pregnant. You know... So this really, like, traumatized me.”

Morrison says she stood vigil for hours at the window, looking out at the boy’s body.

“Because I'm like, he's by himself, he’s by his self. This is a baby," Morrison says. “He's by his self.”

“Walking to the window, I knew off the rip that he was a child because of how small he was,” Morrison says.

Around the corner on Prospect St., shortly after Juan was killed, a 16-year-old boy was also shot. He was taken to the hospital and according to Rochester police, his injuries are not life-threatening. RPD said the two shootings are considered the same incident.

When the wind blows out some of the candles, Barnes relights them. A few feet from the candles, patches of grass are spotted with blood.

According to Rochester police data, Juan is the 38th minor shot this year. There have been over 280 shootings so far in 2022.

“I just hope this family gets some closure,” Barnes says. “[The bullet] wasn't meant for that baby. Whoever it was for, it was not meant for that baby. So, I just feel like ... this mom needs answers.”

Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.