ELIZABETH, NJ - Tears mixed with heavy downpours last night as family, friends and residents held a vigil at Coakley Circle for a 16-year-old who authorities say was shot in the head.
The rain did not deter over 100 people from gathering to remember Jose Oliver Torres Tineo at the small park, where friends said the teen would often go to play basketball.
“Oh my God, why?” Tineo’s grandmother exclaimed in Spanish between sobs while hugging family friends. “My child!”
Authorities said they found the 16-year-old in a basement on Monroe Street around 9:45 p.m. on July 4. He was taken to Newark University Hospital in critical condition.
Tineo attended Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. Germaine Murchison knew Tineo for about three years and played basketball with him. He recalled Tineo as a “supporting person” and “loving.”
“He was close to everybody, which is why there's such a large turnout,” said Murchison, 17, of Elizabeth. “It's hard for everybody."
Murchison said he was standing in the rain because it showed “respect.”
“He was one of my friends. If something were to happen to me or anybody else, you know he would be out here mourning.”
Christine Abreu, 19, said she started a GoFundme page to raise money to help Tineo’s family pay for a funeral. She went to high school with Tineo and said her boyfriend was friends with him.
Attendees at the vigil gathered around Tineo’s family as they cried. Johnathan Vietsch, a family friend, translated into English what Tineo’s grandmother was saying.
“With the big love that you have for him, that you give to Oliver, she don't got no words to say for the big love you guys got for him,” Vietsch said, translating for the grandmother. “She knows that all of you guys are here in the rain, because you feel something for him.”
Board of Education President Stanley Neron said yesterday that Tineo was a "well-liked student."
“Our thoughts and prayers to Jose’s family and friends. God Bless each of them and our entire community at large,” Neron said in a statement.
Grief counseling will be available for students at Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy and the John E. Dwyer auditorium on July 10 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.