On Saturday, friends and family remembered a 12-year-old boy who loved making his friends laugh - and loved BMX riding.
Austin Tapia was found in his Phoenix home Wednesday - the victim of a stabbing, allegedly at the hands of his 27-year-old stepbrother, Andrew Ward.
Police said Ward has a history of violence and drug abuse and has been charged with first-degree murder and child abuse. They said Ward told them he just felt like killing.
At a national tournament at Tapia's home away from home, Black Mountain BMX, his family, friends, and fellow riders wore purple - Tapia's favorite color.
"He was like a brother to me because he was so sweet and you could come to him for anything. He was just there for you," said one of Tapia's classmates at Paseo Hills Elementary, Hannah Smith. "It's devastating to lose him because I don't get to see him anymore."
"It's sad to lose a friend that you've known for a long time," said classmate Sedona Spillane.
"Austin was a popular name in our house, with all these girls," said mother Cherie Spillane, who said they came to the event to start the healing process. It's hard to find the words, it's very difficult. I wish they didn't have to experience this at such a young age."
During the opening ceremony, Tapia's loved ones released dozens of purple balloons, and his family choked back tears, thanking the crowd for all their support.
"Hold your kids and kiss them every day because you never know when you might not have them," said a family member.
"I'm sorry for the family's loss," Cherie Spillane said. "I can sympathize with you. I'm so sorry."
Thursday, August 21 2014 1:54 AM EDT2014-08-21 05:54:23 GMT
Las Vegas nonprofit hospital University Medical Center (UMC) on Wednesday afternoon announced it is eliminating a number of services to save money.More >
Las Vegas nonprofit hospital University Medical Center (UMC) on Wednesday afternoon announced it is eliminating a number of services to save money, which will result in the loss of about 285 positions. More >