Friends, family celebrate Reynolds HS shooting victim's 15th birthday

TROUTDALE, Ore. -- It's been a little over a month since Emilio Hoffman was shot and killed by a classmate at Reynolds High School in Troutdale. Not a day has gone by where his close friends and family aren't heart-sick about his death.

More than 100 people who knew Emilio well gathered Tuesday evening to celebrate his birthday.

Emilio was born on July 15, 1999. On July 15, 2014 at 7:15 p.m. those who loved him most gathered at his grave site at the Douglass Cemetery. They sang him "Happy Birthday" and released dozens of balloons into the clear blue sky.

The cemetery is just a few blocks from the house where Emilio grew up in Troutdale, where his family still lives. His mom, Jennifer, hosted a birthday party there for Emilio before the balloon release at his grave.

Hundreds of people showed up to remember Emilio and celebrate his life, including his soccer teammates from Reynolds High School, dozens of other friends from school and the soccer community, his cousins and other immediate family members.

Jennifer Hoffman invited KATU News Reporter Hillary Lake to the party as well. Hoffman shared her son's story with Lake in an exclusive KATU News interview a little more than a week after his death.

Hoffman said the party was difficult for her because she still can't accept Emilio is gone. He was shot and killed on June 10 in the gym locker room at Reynolds High school, just two days shy of completing his freshman year. But she wanted his friends and family to be together on his birthday.

The party was partly somber, yet full of love, happy memories and smiles.

Emilio's soccer teammates kicked the ball around in the family's back yard. So did his siblings and some younger players who Emilio coached. There was lot of homemade food, and two birthday cakes.

One cake was in the shape of red Converse shoes, which were Emilio's favorite fashion statement. The other cake had photos of Emilio playing soccer in the icing.

It's an understatement to say it's hard to celebrate the day Emilio Hoffman came into this world, when the day that one senseless act took him out of it is still so fresh.

Emilio's sisters, parents and everyone who loved him said having a birthday party for him was the right thing to do. So was visiting his grave site. He's buried in space number 29, that's also the same number he wore on his soccer jersey.