DORAL (CBSMiami) — As the search for Christian Aguilar continues in Gainesville, his friends and former classmates in South Florida honored him at a football game Friday night.
Before kick-off, the crowd gathered at Doral Academy to observe a moment of silence in honor of Aguilar, whose disappearance has sparked a search that’s drawn multiple law enforcement agencies and hundreds of volunteers to North Central Florida
“We want Chris to come home and we want to continue to support his family in their search for him,” Doral Academy Principal Douglas Rodriguez said before Friday’s game between his “Firebirds” and the Belen Jesuit School “Wolverines”.
Friday’s developments spread quickly. Through phone calls, texts, and even Twitter, students learned former classmate Pedro Bravo had been charged with murder in the case.
“I really didn’t know what to believe,” said student Taylor Sanchez. “I didn’t know if it was true or if they’d found the body. So I went online.”
Sanchez and her friend Jazmin Schaeffler both said the knew Aguilar. They called him a smart kid with few, if any, enemies. Neither girl was close to Pedro Bravo. The news of the more serious charge has them fearing the worst.
“When I heard that, I felt sick to my stomach,” Schaeffler said.
“We’re devastated that we’ve gotten to the point where murder charges are now filed,” Principal Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he has been in contact with Christian’s family daily.
He said his students have stepped up to help in any way they can.
“Today alone our students collected another $8,000. Not just from the students here, but from the community at large,” Rodriguez said.
While the case has consumed the campus for more than a week now, Principal Rodriguez said a little bit of normalcy, like the routine of a Friday night under the lights, was needed.
“We still have a school full of a bunch of kids where school needs to continue for all of them,” he said. “So we’ll do a little of both. Celebrate Chris’s life but also celebrate our football game.”
Students believe the events of the last week have brought them together.
“We’ve become one. We always have been,” Sanchez said. “But now we realize, once a Firebird, always a Firebird.”
The “Firebird” family plans to send more students and faculty up to Gainesville to assist in the search.
Those who can’t make it but want to find a way to help, are encouraged to pass by the Publix supermarket on 97th Avenue and 41st Street Saturday to make a donation to help support Christian’s family.
They will also be collecting supplies to distribute to the volunteers.