Hundreds mourn student in Lyons
Somber prayer vigil for seventh-grader after suicide
By Steve Metsch
About 300 people attended a prayer vigil Thursday night at the entrance of Washington Middle School in Lyons, mourning a seventh-grade student who took his own life.
Johany Juan Bueno, 13, of Stickney, shot himself while at school around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was pronounced dead at Loyola Hospital from a gunshot wound in the head, officials said.
Thursday’s vigil was put together by Lyons residents Raul and Maria Peralta in an attempt to console the boy’s grieving family.
The Rev. Marilyn Vasko, of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Lyons, was asked to say a prayer.
“We come to you with questions. We come to you with anger. We come to you with great sorrow. Hold us and remind us that by being together with one another we experience your divine, holy presence,” Vasko said.
When a woman sang “Amazing Grace” and played a ukulele, she was nearly drowned out by the sobbing of Bueno’s mother.
Later, the boy’s father was weeping and moaning loudly as he was heard asking “why, why?”
Raul Peralta said “one of the most difficult things is how do we get through this? How do we walk this out?”
“One of the greatest things we can do is what we are doing right now, come together as a community, as a town and show them family they are not alone, but we are all together with them,” Raul Peralta said.
“My boys knew him at school. He was a good kid. (This) caught everybody off guard. (He played) Little League. He just had his first practice,” Raul Peralta said.
Maria Peralta invited all of Bueno’s classmates to gather together during the vigil. Many of the students began weeping and, one by one, they offered condolences to Bueno’s parents.
A man who identified himself as “Bob from Stickney” said his grandson attends Washington.
“God said, ‘I need an angel.’ And now he’s in heaven with God. We don’t understand because God has a plan for all of us,” the man said.
Several current and future members of the school board were in attendance, along with Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty who reminded students they should talk through any problems.
“Anybody who’s feeling down, who’s feeling troubled, feeling hurt, talk to someone you can confide in, talk to a parent, talk to a sibling, talk to a teacher, talk to anybody. We value everybody’s life in this community. We value J.J.’s life,” Getty said.
“This is a tough time for our community. We need to come together. This is a strong community. We need to support the family,” Getty said before shaking hands with Bueno’s mother and step-father, telling them, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
A woman said her son attended Edison School with Bueno. “He and J.J. were pretty close,” she said.
Although the shooting took place in Lyons, any possible charges in the case would be filed by Stickney Police, Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion said, because Bueno resided in Stickney.
Earlier this year, a Washington School sixth-grader took his own life with a gun at his home. Lyons police filed a charge of child negligence against the parents, Herion said. Those parents attended Thursday night’s vigil, he said.
As of 9:45 p.m. Thursday, $10,455 had been raised on a gofundme page “to raise money for a proper burial for Johany Juan Bueno.” The goal had been $10,000.
— Desplaines Valley News