Hundreds remember Anchorage 'Earth Angel'
Juanita Lolesio, 19, was shot near a party bus on Oklahoma Street in Anchorage on Dec. 30.
Juanita was rushed to Alaska Regional Hospital with life-threatening gunshot wounds. After nearly three weeks on life support, Juanita was taken off the machines and died on Jan. 15.
Since Juanita was shot, her death is marked as the thirty-sixth homicide of 2017-- a new record for Anchorage.
On Friday, hundreds of friends and family members gathered at St. Anthony's Parish to remember the life of the vibrant young woman.
"She was an earth angel," Erica Lolesio, Juanita's mother said. "She touched the lives of so many people. I can't believe this, people are here from Houston, Texas, California. Everybody loved her."
Juanita was a cheerleader in high school, loved taking selfies, cosmetology and loved keeping up with the latest fashion trends.
"She was defiantly a fashionista," Erica said. "She loved everyone around her."
After graduating high school, Juanita tried living with her father Juan in Texas.
"I got her down here after she graduated and it didn't work out," Juanita's father, Juan Lolesio said. "She's an Anchorage girl and wanted to be back there. Two weeks before the incident she was planning on coming to celebrate her brother and sister's birthday's here in Texas. We were getting her airplane ticket ready but she never made it."
Juan remembers the last words he ever got from Juanita.
"She texted me and said, 'Daddy, I'll see you soon,'" Juan said. "'Merry Christmas.'"
This is the other side of homicides not many people see. The less publicized portion of how a split second decision can impact thousands of people.
"It's sad that this kind of stuff happens because I am so sick of going on social media and seeing this kind of stuff with children," Erica said. "It's not fair, we're not supposed to bury you guys first. We shouldn't have to all gather again because of someone else child. I never want anyone to feel that we are going through. Something in Anchorage has to change."
Police are still investigating the shooting. Juanita's family asks that anyone with information about what happened to come forward.
"We issue a new challenge for the youth out there," Erica said. "It's called the come forward challenge. Do the right thing."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately said Juanita Lolesio died Jan. 18, not Jan. 15.
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