STOCKTON, Calif. — This year will be a dark Christmas for Maria Avina. Instead of celebrating the holiday with her family, the Stockton mother will be mourning her son who was shot and killed over the weekend just yards away from his church.
"I love you too much, my son," Avina said Monday as she prayed over a small candle memorial for Edward "Eddie" Rosas.
Stockton Police officials said the 17-year-old was shot at the same spot where his mother prayed on Oakmont Drive near Coral Lane Friday afternoon. It is just yards away from his church, New Day Community Church of Stockton.
He died the next day in a hospital.
"[He was a] very, very good son," Avina said.
Rosas' death marked the city's 38th homicide in 2019, passing 2018's total of 39. On Monday morning, Stockton Police officials began investigating an overnight homicide — the city's 39st.
Bill Yates, Pastor at New Day Community Church of Stockton, said he watched Rosas grow up ever since the teen was in fifth grade. Yates told ABC10 that he remembers Rosas as an avid skateboarder with a silly sense of humor who was working to graduate high school early.
This holiday season, Rosas helped build the church's Christmas light show — an impressive display of lights synced to music yards away from where Rosas was gunned down.
"It was so cold, wet and rainy, and he was helping me out these lights into the ground," Yates recalled.
But Rosas' friends said that's the type of person he was — there to help when it was most needed.
"He definitely did have a good heart. He was always there to help you," said Ariana Thomas, a 16-year-old who was in youth group with Rosas.
To raise money for Rosas' family, his church spent the weekend selling cookies and hot chocolate — one of his favorite holiday treats.
The church is refusing to let tragedy and darkness take over. They say their Christmas light show is a reminder of the good Rosas brought to his community.
"I'm humbled to realize he created so much beauty as one of his last acts," Yates said. Yates said that he prays someone can shed light on why Rosas was killed.
Since his shooting death, Rosas' family has been left in the dark as the Stockton Police Department continues to investigate. So far, police have no credible leads on a suspect or a motive.
Avina is also pleading for the suspect to turn themselves in. It's the one thing she's asking for this Christmas.
If you have any information on the shooting, call the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377, the Investigation Unit at (209) 937-8323, or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600. Callers can remain anonymous.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story stated that Stockton had 41 homicides in 2019. The correct number of homicides in the city in 2019 is 39. We regret the error.
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