By candlelight Wednesday night, friends of 17-year-old Pedro Maldonado Jr. cried and consoled each other at Weston's Regional Park.
"I felt a need to come out here and support him," said Sierah Crisler, who attended Cypress Bay High School with Maldonado, who was murdered by his father in their Weston home Monday, according to authorities.
Pedro Maldonado Sr., 53, shot to death his son and his 47-year-old wife, Monica Narvaez-Maldonado, with a crossbow at 4266 Vineyard Circle, authorities said.
The father then drove to Tallahassee, where he attacked his other son, 21-year-old Jose Maldonado, Tuesday morning, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said. He shot his son in the ear with the crossbow and tried to choke him, but Jose Maldonado was able to escape with his life, although he didn’t report the attack, according to the BSO.
Maldonado Sr. was ultimately found dead in a Lake City hotel room at around 2 a.m. Wednesday, after he apparently slit his own throat, the BSO said.
At a Wednesday night vigil, Crisler said she and Maldonado Jr. had several friends in common at Cypress Bay High, where he was a popular senior and a drummer in the marching band.
"He was honestly one of the most respectful, talented, smart kids I've ever known," recalled Maldonado's friend, Jake Carstens.
Carstens said he and Maldonado bonded their freshman year, when Carstens was new in town and short on friends.
"It was a tough time in my life. I was having a tough time belonging and he just every day was like, 'hey Jake.' And that just made me feel like, you know, 'maybe there's a chance I could belong here,' and he became like a beacon of hope for me," he said.
That beacon was sadly lost Tuesday night, after BSO deputies found the teen and his mother dead inside their home. Narvaez-Maldonado was mourned at the vigil as well.
"Whatever she was doing, she was doing it right to have been able to raise such an amazing young man such as Pedro," said a friend in the crowd moments before a ceremonial balloon release.
The family's priest was on hand at the vigil, helping the family's loved ones mourn their sudden loss.
"We have to be able to help them to see that, yes, there's sadness; but, hopefully, there's healing, there's hope, there's the opportunity to give them encouragement," said Father Ed Prendergrast of St. Bonaventure Catholic Church.