Kent-Meridian High School. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent-Meridian High School. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Man, 18, found shot in parking lot identified as Kent-Meridian student | Update

Medical Examiner’s Office rules death of Cristopher Medina Zelaya a homicide

An 18-year-old man found fatally shot June 3 in the city of Kent’s Campus Park parking lot has been identified as a Kent-Meridian High School student.

Cristopher Medina Zelaya died in the incident, Kent-Meridian Principal David Radford wrote in a June 5 email to school parents and families.

“It is with great sadness that I must inform you of the death of a Kent-Meridian student,” Radford wrote in an email provided to the Kent Reporter by a city resident. “Our thoughts are with the friends and family during this sensitive time.”

Zelaya died of a gunshot wound of the head into the neck, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, which ruled the death a homicide.

Kent Police have revealed few details about the incident. In its initial and only report so far, police said detectives are investigating the the death of an 18-year-old Kent man found Monday morning, June 3 in the city’s Campus Park parking lot in the 9800 block of South 252nd Street near Kent-Meridian High School.

Multiple officers were dispatched at about 11:10 a.m. to an aid call for an unconscious man in the parking lot, according to a June 3 Kent Police news release. The 911 caller said the man had significant bleeding and might be deceased.

Officers and Puget Sound Fire personnel arrived at the same time and located the man with an injury to the back of his head, consistent with a gunshot wound, according to police. He was already dead.

Detectives responded to the scene and are investigating the circumstances surrounding Zelaya’s death.

Radford said additional counselors and staff would be available to students Thursday, June 6 on campus.

“Ours is a remarkably diverse community with many faith, cultural and family traditions that navigate death and loss differently,” Radford said in the email to parents. “We want to show all due respect by allowing you to approach this situation in the manner you feel best suited for your child.

“Experience tells us children deal with death and loss in very different ways and you should pay particular attention to your child’s behavior and mood during this challenging time. Some will want to discuss this event in detail and with great emotion. Others may withdraw or even have trouble sleeping. You know your child best and we are here if you need assistance with how to discuss this with your child.”

The Class of 2024 graduation for Kent-Meridian is Saturday, June 8 at the accesso ShoWare Center. Radford didn’t say in his email Zelaya’s year in school and whether he was part of the graduating class.

Kent Police are asking anyone with information about this death to call the KPD tip line at 253-856-5808 or email a tip to Refer to case number 24-7755.

GoFundMe account started

A GoFundMe account was started for the family of Cristopher Zelaya by Jennifer Mendoza, of Seattle, a cousin of the student. The money will be used for his funeral, Mendoza said.

“They took his life today we don’t know the exact reason why they did it, but with what you can contribute the family and I are going to thank you very much,” Mendoza wrote.

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