Walter Denesha leaves memories, message
By SHAWN SKAGER
Auburn Reporter Sports Reporter
June 21, 2012 · Updated 9:50 PM
Friends, schoolmates and acquaintances gathered at Pacific Park last Friday to honor the memory of slain Mt. Baker Middle School seventh-grader Walter Denesha.
Dozens gathered to honor the Pacific teenager who, according to police, was stabbed to death in his bed by his sister's ex-boyfriend, Brandon Suhr.
Suhr, 19, pleaded not guilty to the murder at his arraignment at the King County Courthouse in Seattle on Wednesday.
Last week's vigil – organized by Mt. Baker eighth-graders Jaclyn Leibrant and Tristan Howard – celebrated Denesha's uniqueness and the impact he had on his classmates.
"The topic of the night was actions speak louder than words," Leibrant said. "People are saying that Walter stood up for those who were being bullied. Those people who were bullying him were saying, 'I'm going to stop this, I'm not going to bully anymore.' But so far, none of us has seen that happen. So those are just words.
"I think, for anything to come out of this, we need to see those actions."
"The one comment that keeps coming up is that Walter was there to stand up for other people, but who was there for Walter?"
Leibrant hopes the event starts a "chain reaction" of anti-bullying action.
Candles were lit and posters displayed in tribute to Denesha, a 13-year-old boy who had a penchant for standing out by dying his hair blue. Classmates performed music and spoke about how he had dared to be different.
The candlelight memorial also served as a fundraiser with T-shirt and candle sales benefitting the Walter Denesha Memorial Fund.
Leibrant and the Mt. Baker community also have contributed money for Denesha's family by hosting "Walter Wednesdays" at the school.
"It's where you can wear a cap for a dollar," she said. "We made about $1,000 doing 'Walter Wednesdays' in one day."
Proceeds raised went to the fund set up by the White River Valley Lions at local Columbia Banks. Donations continue to be made at the banks.
Sarah Samuelson (pictured below), a Lakeland Hills Elementary teacher, was one of several adults who turned out.
"Like a lot of people, I'm here because I wanted to hear from them (the students) and see if they're OK," she said.
Although Samuelson didn't know Denesha personally, she said her daughter was a teacher's assistant in his seventh-grade class at Mt. Baker.
"We're here to support what they're doing and help them process their grief," Samuelson added.Contact Auburn Reporter Sports Reporter Shawn Skager at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 833-0218, ext. 5054.