The 14-year-old boy fatally shot at an Oregon high school Tuesday was a good-natured athlete with an easy laugh, his family said in a statement.
Emilio Hoffman was a freshman at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, a suburb of Portland. He was killed in the locker room of the school's gymnasium when Michael Padgett, a 15-year-old freshman, opened fire, police said.
In the statement, Emilio's mother, Jennifer Hoffman, said: "You couldn't be around Emilio without laughing! Anyone who has ever met Emilio laughed with him. He had to be the center of attention at all times!"
Sign up for breaking news alerts from NBC News
The grief-stricken mother remembered her son as a devoted athlete who played tee ball and football — and grew to love soccer.
"[W]hen he found soccer, that was it. Soccer was his whole life," Jennifer Hoffman said.
Kaylah Ensign, one of Emilio's close friends, told The Oregonian that Emilio put the needs of other people before his own and used his sense of humor to lift friends' spirits when they were down.
"If you would go to school and have your head down or there was just something wrong, he would bug you until you told him about it," Ensign, a 15-year-old freshman at Reynolds, told the newspaper. "He would make you laugh."
Ensign was also acquainted with Padgett. She told a reporter with NBC affiliate KGW that the accused shooter was “always polite [and] kind.”
“He helped me on my PowerPoint and I never would have thought it was him. He always talked about guns and hunting but never in my mind could I see him hurt anyone. He barely even knew Emilio,” Ensign told the affiliate.
Emilio was a popular member of the school's junior varsity soccer team, and teammates and other fellow students were grief-stricken by the news of his death.
In her statement, Jennifer Hoffman included a heart-wrenching message to parents about the preciousness of life.
"To the parents out there — Love your kids. Hug your kids every day. And live with no regrets. I don't have any regrets with Emilio. None. And he knew that."
— Daniel Arkin
First published June 11 2014, 3:53 PM