Jarvis Alexander and Jaquayla Young, both 19 years old, died after a mass shooting in a backyard party in Rochester, New York, on Friday night, police said. Fourteen others were also injured during the shooting, all between the ages of 17 and 23.
The two teens who died were not targeted by the gunmen, but were innocent bystanders, officials said.
Police have not yet identified any potential suspects but said "three or four" people were involved in the gunfight on Friday, firing off more than 40 shots. The investigation is ongoing.
"We have innocent victims that were attending a party with a few friends and unfortunately they lost their lives as a result," police Capt. Frank Umbrino said in a press conference on Saturday. "It's heart-wrenching when you have innocent people getting killed. I just hope, a month from now, everybody remembers their names."
Their deaths sparked an outpouring of grief in Rochester with friends, teachers, and coaches remembering the young victims as bright, inspiring, and positive members of the community.
East High School Superintendent Shaun Nelms told Spectrum News that he remembers Young, a former student, as a positive member of the community who was a cheerleading captain, a student ambassador, and an aspiring teacher.
"It is something you just can’t believe," Nelms said. "No death makes sense but when you lose someone so innocent and who is doing everything right...good grades, positive in the school community, helpful with her peers, and giving back to the school community after she graduates as an alum. To have her leave this earth so soon is heart-wrenching.”
Young was a student at Monroe Community College. On her Facebook page underneath her name, Young wrote, “Maintaining Focus, Positive Vibes.”
Laura Shortz Delehanty, a teacher at East High School who taught Young for all four years of high school, wrote an emotional Facebook post honoring her late student.
"One of her classmates said she was the spark that lit the rest of our class on fire," Delehanty wrote. "I couldn't have said it better. She truly was at the center of it all."
Delehanty described Young as a "natural leader, extremely intelligent, fiercely loyal, opinionated in the best of ways, yet kind and gentle with the young children she worked with.”
She said Young had FaceTimed her several times during the pandemic to check in on her.
After her death, Young's classmates gathered in Delehanty's backyard to grieve together for Young.
“We cried together, laughed together, sang, and held each other's pain,” Delehanty wrote. “Jaquayla Aerial's memory will live on through all of us. She will forever be missed.”
Alexander graduated from University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men, or UPrep. The school said he was a scholar athlete who "excelled not only in the classroom but also on the track and football field."
“Without a question, if he said he was going to do something, he did it," Majied Eason, Alexander’s former track coach, told the Democrat & Chronicle.
After high school, Alexander went on to attend Alfred University in Alfred, New York.
UPrep assistant track coach Demetrius Bennet said that in his 20 years of coaching, "this one is the hardest."
"Because this kid, he came through his adversity in academics, got it done and graduated,” Bennett told the Democrat & Chronicle. “It’s like you are here today and gone tomorrow and haven’t even lived a life."
Brian Smith, a friend of Alexander’s, remembered him as "a young man everyone respected and loved."
In a Facebook post honoring Alexander on Saturday, Smith wrote, "Words can’t justly describe the type of person Jarvis was... An amazing influence on everyone he has been around."