After a funeral Mass on Monday for 16-year-old Ryan Mangan of Jeannette, his girlfriend remembered him as loving and funny.
“I just wanted to say that he’s a very loving person. I will always love him,” said Brianna Kelly, 15. “He’ll never be forgotten.”
Mangan was shot to death in his mother’s home Wednesday, police said. A classmate, Maxwell Marion Morton, 16, of Jeannette has been charged with firing the single shot.
Jeannette City School District, where both teens were juniors, operated on a two-hour delay Monday to enable students to attend the funeral.
Hundreds of mourners filled the pews of Sacred Heart Church in the city’s North Side, where the Rev. Paul A. Lisik celebrated the Mass.
Many of Mangan’s classmates wept and embraced. Some gathered in front of a large poster board the family set up in the church entry with photos of Mangan as an infant, playing at the beach and celebrating birthdays.
Kelly said she and Mangan dated for several months.
“He had a big heart. I feel lucky to have had a piece of it,” she said. “Having his friends’ support makes it easier. It’s tough, but I’ll get through it.”
Police were led to Morton when a photo surfaced that he allegedly took with the victim’s body.
Morton was charged with homicide Friday and is being held without bail.
Some of Mangan’s friends said they were shocked and puzzled by the photo that police said shows Morton with the victim.
“We all have some questions. Why? It doesn’t matter who did it. Justice was served. … But why, and why would you want to brag about it?” said Joscelyn Elias. “It is hard. … I can’t imagine how it is for his mother and father.”
High school Principal Patricia Rozycki said grief counselors will be at district schools for the next few days. Boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball games scheduled Monday were canceled.
Friends stood in clusters outside the church in the rain, many expressing disbelief that their classmate was gone.
“I have no idea why anybody would want to do something like that, and feel like it could be justified in any way,” Haley Farro said. “Ryan was so important to us. He was our best friend.”
“He was like our little brother,” said another friend, Alexandra Mireles. “He’s at peace now. He’s in heaven.”
Superintendent Matthew Hutcheson posted an undated letter to the district’s website, advising parents and the community of the district’s response to the “recent tragedy.”
A police presence at various times during the school day will continue, he said.
“These security measures may, at times, seem like an inconvenience, but rest assured they are in place for the safety of our children,” Hutcheson wrote.
“As parents and community members, it is essential that you, too, remain vigilant in listening to the statements, online posts and conversations that our students are having. … This is not a time for revenge, but a time to draw together to address the needs within the community,” he added.
Hutcheson suggested that the community support students in the coming weeks through their extracurricular activities.
“We need to take time to celebrate life and do everything possible to keep that as our focus for the children in our community,” he said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or [email protected].