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Loved ones say goodbye to Manuel Guzman after fatal stabbing at Kansas City middle school

Friends and family filled the chapel at Passantino Bros. Funeral Home to say goodbye to Manuel Guzman, the 14-year-old killed in a school stabbing.
Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga
Friends and family filled the chapel at Passantino Bros. Funeral Home to say goodbye to Manuel Guzman, the 14-year-old killed in a school stabbing.

More than 100 people gathered at Passantino Bros. Funeral Home to say goodbye to Manuel Guzman, a 14-year-old student fatally stabbed by another 14-year-old at Northeast Middle School on April 12.

As photos and videos depicting a vivacious, affectionate boy flitted by on a TV screen, family members and friends poured into Passantino Bros. Funeral Home on Saturday to say goodbye to 14-year-old Manuel Jesus Guzman. Guzman died April 12 after being stabbed at Northeast Middle School by another student. Well over 100 people attended the visitation, filling the chapel and lobby until it was standing room only, many wearing T-shirts with photos of the teenager and slogans such as “Long Live Manny.”

Many funeral-goers said they were still in shock. Guzman’s uncle, Maurico Lopez, said he could not believe that someone as young as Guzman could die that way.

Another 14-year-old male student has been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon in Jackson County Juvenile Court. His identity has not been disclosed because he is charged as a juvenile.

“The way that we lost Manuel to violence like that, it hits different. And it's not good for anybody or for the community,” said Lopez.

Cynthia Carr, a close family friend of the Guzmans’ who said her son is dating Manuel’s aunt, described Manuel as like a grandson to her. She said he would eat dinner and spend the night at her house often, and on Saturday she said she was still trying to understand his death. Carr said many of the details are hard to fathom.

“First, we talking about a 14-year-old. Then we talking about the death of a 14-year-old by another 14-year-old. That's senseless,” she said. “The school should have did more, you know. It just should, more should have been done to spare his life. He was a happy kid. He was always playing around, always joking. And for this to be his demise, that's senseless.”

Estellar Fuller, also a family friend, nodded her head in agreement.

Guzman’s family hosted a rally outside Northeast Middle School on Monday where they aired safety concerns and called for the school to close. More than 100 students walked out to join the rally. Kansas City Public School superintendent Mark Bedell said in a statement April 14 the school is conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

Fuller described Guzman as loving and kind, and she said when she met him six years ago, he gave her a huge hug, even though she was a stranger at the time. Other loved ones spoke of Guzman’s hugs, too. Aiden Mullenax, who is a year younger than Guzman, said he walked up to him and hugged him when they first met, too, and had been friends ever since. Mullenax’s mother, Shauntae Mullenax, said Guzman was a role model for Aiden.

“He was like a big brother to my son, always trying to keep him guided in the right direction when he found his way off of the path and taking up for him when he would get bullied, things like that,” she said. “Just to know that another child could have so much heart just shows that Manny was a great kid.”

Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga is a freelance reporter for KCUR 89.3.
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