DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Friends remembered Mya Pena for her big, bright smile.
“It’s undeniable the impact Mya has had on our community. It’s also undeniable that she was loved and will be unbelievably missed,” said Rebecca Berg, addressing a crowd of people inside a gymnasium Thursday night.
Berg introduced herself as a teacher and chaplain at Pena’s high school, Mile High Academy in Highlands Ranch.
Pena, 17, died Tuesday. She is the victim of a suspected murder-suicide from Tuesday night.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said 18-year old Samuel Hoffman is suspected of killing Pena not far from her high school, driving south, then later killing himself. The bodies of both teenagers were discovered in a vehicle off I-25 in Fountain.
The El Paso County Coroner’s office released Pena’s name on Thursday. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office released a picture, provided by her family.
Thursday night’s vigil was hosted for family and friends by Pena’s high school. The gathering was not open to the general public to attend, at the family’s request. But the school allowed the public and media to view the gathering through a live stream online.
Several classmates shared memories of the teen.
“She always had a smile, it was great being friends with her,” one student said.
“I just love her smile,” shared one of her teachers. “I love the way she brightens up a room. Her bright eyes. I look forward to seeing her laugh again.”
Another student added, “Even if she was having a bad day, she always had a smile on her face. And even though her smile is not here, with us anymore, she’ll always be remembered.”
Friends talked about Pena’s competitiveness on the soccer field, and her sense of humor. Berg said students made ribbons to honor her, in the colors of blue and white. Several speakers address members of Pena’s family, promising to support them through this difficult time.
Speakers led songs and offered prayers.
“Your daughter allowed her light to shine,” said a pastor who spoke Thursday night. “It’s my prayer that all of us together will do the same thing.”
A friend of Pena’s created an online fundraiser for the victim’s family, which raised more than $20,000 dollars within the first day.
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