Students shocked, saddened by death

Altoona Area High School students arrived at school Wednesday morning to the news that one of their classmates lost his life in a shooting the previous night.

The 15-year-old male victim, Devon Pfirsching of Altoona, was shot Tuesday evening just before midnight on the 100 block of Fourth Avenue Alley.

His classmates expressed shock and sadness on the loss of someone they said was a popular kid.

Grace Yartin, a 10th grade student, said she has known Pfirsching since grade school when they were both students at Ebner Elementary School.

Grace said the victim was fun to be around and always in a good mood.

“He was kind of the class clown, she said.

Grace said she found out about her classmate’s death when she got to school and that it didn’t feel real to her.

“At first I didn’t believe it, and then I just broke down in tears,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be true.”

Grace said the mood inside the high school was somber, especially the seventh-period class she had with Pfirsching.

“Everyone said seventh period won’t be the same without him,” she said. “The whole day was depressing. Everyone was crying.”

Shane Miller, a senior, said he had gym class with Pfirsching. Shane said he gathered with his friends to help cope with the news.

“Everyone was talking about how much of a good kid he was,” Shane said. “How he was supportive and funny. He was a great kid. Everyone was walking around stunned.”

Shane said the victim was ‘like a brother” to him and said he plans to talk to his parents and the school’s counselors to help him deal with the loss.

“I’m going to talk to both until I get it off my chest,” he said. “I loved that kid. He was always there when I needed him.”

Eleventh grader Madison Shinkevich said that although she didn’t personally know the victim, the news saddened her.

“It was terrible,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but it just really shocked me.”

Madison said the shooting makes her uneasy walking around.

“To be honest, I don’t really feel safe around this area,” she said.

C.J. Seward played football with the victim and said the news was hard to hear.

“It’s just crazy that this happened,” he said.

Hayden Tipton said he knew the victim to be a popular kid who was good at sports.

“He was really good at wrestling,” he said. “Everyone liked him.”

Both C.J. and Hayden said they don’t feel as safe as they used to, and Tuesday’s incident heightened their insecurity.

“I don’t trust anybody,” C.J. said.

“If I’m in a group, I feel safer, but not at night,” Hayden said.

Mirror Staff Writer Rick Boston is at 946-7535.