PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was a day of remembrance at Roxborough High School on Wednesday, one year to the day a shooting after a football scrimmage left a freshman dead and four other teens injured.
It was on Sept. 27, 2023 when a group of five people jumped from an SUV and opened fire, killing 14-year-old Saul High School freshman Nicolas Elizalde, who played with the Roxborough football team. Four other teens were injured, none of whom have returned to Roxborough High.
Staff members at Roxborough High wore white ribbons, a symbol of peace, while players on the football team planted flowers near a mural of Elizalde at the school to honor his memory on the anniversary of his death.
Roxborough principal Kristin Williams-Smalley says there are more counselors and efforts to support students as they process the trauma. Her school also has new security cameras, and students and staff are looking out for each other.
“I would say that we are more vigilant, for sure, and that’s what’s changed here,” she said. “Our heightened awareness and … a culture of, ‘If you see something, say something.’”
The tragedy also strengthened Williams-Smalley’s reserve to protect and support her students. “It only cemented it even more,” she said, “that our kids deserve folks that come here and fight for them.”
Still, she added, the city continues to grapple with an epidemic of violence. “I’m tired,” said Williams-Smalley. “My colleagues are tired of losing children. We’re tired of having to have additional supports at schools because someone has lost their life.”
Elsewhere, Elizalde’s family reflected on the somber anniversary of his death. His grandmother, Marge LaRue, remembered her grandson as a kind, nonviolent person. “To be taken that way,” she said, “it's just beyond understanding.”