Skateboarding was supposed to take 15-year-old Jesus Reyes and his friend away from cars and guns and killings.
"Kids want to be kids," fellow boarder John Harris, 25, of Kansas City said. "They deserved to be kids."
But the dazzling skateboarder, known around the Penn Valley skate park as "Lil Jesus," was found shot to death and his friend critically wounded in a car in Kansas City's Northeast neighborhood Monday night.
Their car was sitting in the middle of the intersection at Truman Road and Hardesty Avenue when police were called around 10 p.m.
Jesus was dead. His friend was rushed to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police have released no suspect information.
"He was so young, so full of life," Jesse Jimenez, 29, of Merriam, said of Jesus. "He had a lot of potential. I thought he could make it. Not many (skateboarders) can go pro, but I thought he could. . . . If he had the right chance, the right push."
The teen that skaters at the Penn Valley park remember was focused on his skating craft — and super hot Cheetos, Jimenez said. "He always had (the orange Cheeto dust) all over his face."
Jesus was also an artist, specializing in the graffiti-style art made famous by Scribe and his many murals around Kansas City.
"It's hitting everybody hard," Jimenez said.
Harris said he had been worried about Jesus. "He had to grow up too young," he said.
The skateboard park seemed like a safe haven for Jesus and his friend, who were "always silly and goofy . . . cracking jokes" when they were on their boards.
"I was hoping to see them again this summer and talk to them again," Harris said.
"No matter what," said another skating friend, Eric Velasco, "Jesus and (his friend) would lighten up your day. . . . They would always cheer you up.
"I really love and miss Jesus."
Friends, on behalf of Jesus' family, have established a GoFundMe page to help raise money for funeral costs.