Sterling Mourns Teen Immigrant Shot on Way to School

A memorial was growing on Monday for the 17-year-old boy shot and killed in Loudoun County Friday morning on his way to school.

Danny Centeno Miranda, a sophomore at Park View High School in Sterling, Virginia, is being remembered in Sterling with photos, candles and stuffed animals.

"I feel so sorry for the family, and he didn't have a chance. He didn't have a chance here in the United States," Sterling resident Rita Poston said as she visited the memorial close to where Miranda was gunned down.

Miranda moved to the U.S. from El Salvador in late 2013 to escape danger in his home country and live with his aunt, uncle and cousins, his devastated family said.

The teenager was shot multiple times about 8:30 a.m. at E. Cornell and N. Duke drives, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office. Miranda was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Three young men were charged on Saturday in connection to his death. A 17-year-old boy is accused of firing the fatal shots and was charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Police withheld his name because he's a juvenile. He's being held at the Loudoun County Juvenile Detention Center.

Henry Ernesto Dominguez Vasquez, 20, and Juan Moises Aguirre Zelaya, 18, both of Sterling, have been charged with possession of a firearm by a person who is not a citizen of the United States and accessory after the fact. They are being held without bond at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.

Neighbors of the slain teenager said Vasquez and Zelaya lived in the same apartment complex and often were disruptive.

"They would always have fights with different people around the neighborhood," one woman said, asking for her identity to be withheld.

She said she thought Miranda was targeted because he refused to join a gang.

"Everyone said that he never wanted to be in the gang and ... the reason he came to America was to escape from that," she said.

Miranda was quiet, humble and artistic, friends and family told The Washington Post. He worked as a busboy at the Benihana restaurant at Dulles Town Center, a coworker said.

Students returning from the holiday weekend will see more Loudoun County police and extra counselors.

Suzanne Devlin, head of security for the school system, said on Saturday that officials were aware of gang activity at schools.

“What I’ve been told by kids themselves is ‘We understand the ramifications of assuming our 'ganghood' in the schools.’ So, they do what they can to leave it at the door," she said.

The school principal and other school officials met this weekend with Miranda's aunt and uncle. The teen's family intends to have his body sent to El Salvador. Park View High and other schools in the area will raise funds to make that possible.

A fund to help send Miranda’s body to El Salvador has been set up at:

Sterling United Methodist Church
304 E. Church St.
Sterling, VA 20164

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