GRESHAM — The 15-year-old boy who fatally shot a fellow freshman at an Oregon high school last week has been laid to rest, but the questions about why he did it remain.
The funeral that followed Jared Padgett’s graveside service Monday was much like any other for a boy who didn’t live long enough to become a man. The photos on the program displayed Padgett as a baby, a student, with family at the beach and leaning against a tree with his arms crossed on an autumn day.
A more recent photo showed him stern-faced in his uniform for the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a glimpse of the future the aspiring serviceman denied himself when he arrived at Reynolds High School armed with an assault rifle, handgun and knife and gunned down 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman before killing himself in a bathroom when confronted by police.
Investigators have not released a motive for the June 10 attack. They say it could have been much worse if not for the quick actions of the responding officers and a gym teacher who suffered a grazing bullet wound.
Those who eulogized the teen before about 200 people at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Gresham — 15 miles east of Portland — seemed at a loss for what caused the devout Mormon to open fire at his school.
“We want answers for what happened that day,” said Andrew Cooper, Padgett’s brother-in-law. “And I think we need to accept that in this life we may never receive those answers.”
Instead, they remembered him for just about everything except the violence that will forever define him. They recalled a smiling, curious boy who displayed leadership skills at a young age, suffered from motion sickness, had a firm handshake and gave lots of hugs.
“He was the most loving person that I’ve met so far on this earth,” said Lucas Padgett, his older brother.
Bishop Michael Tobiasson touched on the elephant in the room: how to balance the good memories with the “tragic event.”
He said his young son looked up to Padgett as a role model in church and started rolling up his sleeves above his elbows, just like Jared. The day after the shooting, the boy asked his mother if he could still roll up his sleeves.
Tobiasson answered the question at the funeral: “Yeah, you can roll up your sleeves and pay tribute to Jared that way.”
Tobiasson then removed his jacket, revealing sleeves rolled above the elbow.