To his family and loved ones he was simply known as Peachy. His two sisters and mother say Derek "Peachy" Juarez Lopez was killed for his backpack.
On Wednesday evening his family and friends gathered to remember him near the West Seattle park where he was killed.
Derek's family gathered at Westcrest Park near the corner of Southwest Cambridge and 6th Avenue Southwest. They were flanked by dozens of friends, classmates even residents of the neighborhood.
At the front of a path into the park were candles lit in his memory spelling “Peach Derek’s World.” Italia Juarez-Lopez was the 15-year-old’s sister. Italia spoke to KIRO 7 along with Veronica Munoz, Derek’s mother and his other sister, Mari Juarez Lopez. The family says it was Tuesday morning when Derek was jumped, robbed of his backpack and stabbed to death.
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At the candlelight vigil, Italia read one of her brother’s final poems: “I'd rather be in the middle to the top... I'd rather chill in a nice home spending money on my family.”
His family says Derek’s world consisted of his writing, school, trying to avoid trouble, and loving his family as fiercely as they loved him. Veronica Munoz was held up by her other children as she spoke about her son just outside the family home: “It's too hard, you know, for me. I'm a mom so I have another three kids... they are always my kids, especially him, he was my baby.”
Italia Juarez-Lopez recounted the sequence of events Tuesday morning. She said another sibling dropped Derek off at a friend’s house for a birthday celebration. She said she was driving in the Ranier Valley when she received a frantic call from her brother. She said at one point she heard him running with the phone.
Derek's sisters and mother still can't understand why someone would stab a 15-year-old to death for a backpack.
Italia remembers some of his last words to her: "He's like, 'I'm bleeding a lot. I've been stabbed.' He said 'Please come get me.'”
Italia was distraught by the death of her brother but also angry at the callous nature of the attack, with her younger brother stabbed multiple times,. “Nobody deserves what happened to him. It was very brutal somebody was aiming to kill him.”
Derek was taken to Harborview Medical Center. His family says a team of doctors worked on him, doing two surgeries. Mari Juarez-Lopez said she hoped the doctors would succeed in their efforts, but after the second surgery she knew he would not survive. "As soon as they said he wasn't going to make it and he didn't, that's when it all felt real.”
The family's emotions were raw Wednesday and were matched by dozens of people who came out for the vigil in Derek's memory. His sisters, mother and many others want justice.
Mari Juarez Lopez said, “I want peace for my brother,” while Veronica Munoz revealed the shock of coming home after he had passed. "Yesterday I just closed his room and ....I don't know what I'm going to do.”
Italia Juarez-Lopez says, “it feels so unreal that he will never come back.”
Italia read her brother’s entire poem which at one point read: “I don't got a lot of homies, neither lot of friends oh well, [expletive] it's not like they'll be there in the end.”
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