Students at Loudoun Valley High School were decked out in an assortment of tie-dye shirts May 27 – but the mood was decidedly more somber than colorful.
The attire wasn't intended to be a fashion statement; rather, it was an effort by the Purcellville students to honor Christian Sierra, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed
by police May 24.
According to a report from Virginia State Police, Purcellville Police received a 911 call at about 2:12 p.m. from someone at a home in the 100 block of Frazer Drive. The caller was seeking help for a teenager threatening suicide. When police reached the scene, Sierra, the teenager in question and armed with a knife, lunged at an officer and was subsequently shot.
Emergency rescue services were called and Sierra was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Virginia State Police’s “Police-Shooting Investigative Team” from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Fairfax Field Office is conducting the investigation into the incident. Once the investigation is complete, the investigative report will be turned over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for review and final adjudication.
The process could take weeks or months, said Corinne Geller, public information director for the Virginia State Police. The officer involved is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“It's handled like any other shooting investigation,” Geller explained. “It takes some time to conduct the tests.”
While the teenager's remains have been taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner for an autopsy, students at Valley are trying to cope with the emotions of losing one of their own.
Sierra was a junior who wrestled and liked skateboarding. On a Facebook page tribute, featuring Sierra in his homecoming getup of a black and white checkered tie and bright red suspenders, friends offered their favorite memories.
“You were so loved by my family and our community,” read one post from Roman Clavelli.
In addition to the social media-organized tie-dye event, a candlelight vigil was held May 26 where Sierra was shot. Tie-dye shirts were also sold at the school to raise money for the family, who has set up a GoFundMe account online to raise money for funeral expenses and an attorney.
The Loudoun County Public Schools' Crisis Intervention Team was on hand May 27 at Valley, neighboring Woodgrove High School and Blue Ridge and Harmony middle schools. If kids feel unable to adequately pay attention to SOL examinations, students are being allowed to postpone taking the test.
Wayde Byard, public information officer for LCPS, said there has been a “steady stream of students coming in” and utilizing the services.
“We're asking kids not to be too judgmental and use restraint when commenting, especially online” Byard said. “It's going to take a complicated investigation to sort this out. We don't want kids saying something they're going to regret.”
This is the second shooting by police in just under a year. Mhai Scott, a 38-year-old Sterling woman, died May 29
after being shot by Loudoun County Sheriff's Office deputies at a Sterling Costco.
An investigation determined the shooting determined to be justified