- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

LONGWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Family and friends mourning the loss of a teenager attended a candlelight vigil last nightto remember the boy, who died two days after being shot by deputies at his middle school.

Christopher Penley, 15, officially was pronounced dead at 4:57 a.m., the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The boy had been described as clinically brain-dead Saturday and was kept alive so his organs could be harvested for donation, said Mark Nation, an attorney for the boy’s parents.

“It’s just unbelievable to me that he’s gone,” said Bucky Hurt, a family friend who had been with the boy’s father, Ralph Penley, at the hospital. “It’s very, very devastating. Good kid, too. It’s a tragedy.”

The evening vigil was planned at nearby Landmark Community Church to remember Christopher.

Friends and neighbors described the teenager as emotionally troubled, saying he had been bullied at school and had run away from home several times.

He was at school on Friday with a pellet gun that closely resembled a 9 mm handgun when another boy scuffled with him for control of the gun inside a classroom. Sheriff’s deputies and a SWAT team later cornered Christopher in a school bathroom, authorities said.

Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said the boy was suicidal and could not be talked into surrendering the weapon. The teenager was shot after he raised the gun at a deputy, Sheriff Eslinger said.

No one else at the 1,100-student school in suburban Orlando was injured.

Sheriff Eslinger said it was not until after the incident that authorities realized the weapon was only a pellet gun.

But the family’s attorney said Saturday that the boy’s father had told authorities during the standoff that his son had a pellet gun. Mr. Nation said police would not let the father inside when he arrived at the school.

“If Christopher was alive and [his father] was able to go into the school, he would’ve been able to talk him out of it,” Mr. Nation said. “He did everything he could to avoid this situation.”

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