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Hundreds attend prayer vigil for suicide victim

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.

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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.

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