Canada

School bench to remember boy, 12, killed by stray bullet aims to create space spawning friendships

TORONTO —
The former school of a Brampton boy killed by a stray bullet last year in North York is honouring him with a friendship bench on the property. 

The bench at Bishop Francis Allen Catholic School reads ‘In memory of our friend Dante Andreatta Marroquin. Those that touch our lives, stay in our hearts forever.’

On the afternoon of Nov. 7 2020, Andreatta Marroquin, in Grade 8 and 12-years-old at the time, was walking with his mother when gunfire erupted in an apartment building parking lot at Stong Court, near Jane St. and Finch Ave. W. 

“I wish I could have taken his place,” his mother, Karla Marroquin told students, staff and family members gathered for a ceremony at the school Thursday. 

“I’m grateful to the school for doing this because he was an innocent child who should not have got to this, time passes but the pain doesn’t,” she added while crying. 

“Thank you to the school for this beautiful memory of him. And I know as we will never forget him, he’s with you, in your hearts and your minds, everyday,” his father Sebastian Andreatta told the crowd, also emotional.

Principal Paul Roul said the sudden and tragic loss at the school has been hard. The bench, and space, which has friendship benches on either side, is a tribute to the friend Dante was, and has been placed with the hope it will spawn new friendships. 

“Because that’s what we remembered him, that true friend, that was always there for us,” said Roul.

Brayden Charlton was one of Dante’s best friends.

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“Very funny. He just brightened up everyone’s mood,” Charlton told CTV News Toronto. 

He said the pair met shortly after Dante came to Canada and they sparked a great friendship as Dante was learning English.

“I didn’t believe it at first, I thought it was some kind of sick joke, but then I found out after it wasn’t a joke,” he about learning Dante had been killed. “It seems like a piece of me is still missing everyday.”

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Three men are charged with first-degree murder in connection with Dante’s death. 

Toronto police say none of them are out on bail. Preliminary court proceedings are set to begin in February 2022.

As the Nov. 7 anniversary of the shooting approaches, police say their thoughts are with the family and encourage anyone with information who has still not spoken with investigators to do so.

The date and what lies ahead weighs on Dante’s parents. They say Dante was a happy boy who loved sports, video games and his friends.

“All I ask is for justice for my son because this should have never have happened,” said Marroquin. 

“He liked his friends and we are going to miss him a lot,” said Andreatta.


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