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Mount Rainier High School principal remembers slain student as a hard worker

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DES MOINES, Wash. -- A high school in Des Moines is mourning the loss of one of their own after a brutal murder. The body of 16-year-old Juan Carlos Con Guzman was pulled from the Green River in Auburn on Tuesday.

Juan Carlos was a junior at Mount Rainier High School. Friday, his friends left school with red roses in their hands to honor him. Grief counselors were also present to help comfort students and staff during the loss.

“Juan Carlos impacted me in a positive way and I’m always going to have him in his memory and that’s going to impact the way I support and interact with students,” said Kyle Linman, principal at Mount Rainier.

Shock overcame the school after students and staff learned about his sudden death.

“It was just like scary. Because like I had him in math class and I would just see him in the halls. And to think that he got killed, that’s just like scary,” said Daniel Tadesse, a Mount Rainier sophomore.

The King County Sheriff’s Office said two fishermen visiting the Green River in Auburn were walking by and noticed a body. Investigators pulled the teen’s body from the river Tuesday, and he was later identified.

A medical examiner reported his cause of death was from multiple injuries. Sgt. Ryan Abbott said Juan Carlos’ father filed a missing child report before his body was discovered.

A memorial was displayed in Juan Carlos’ honor inside the high school.

“They just had like his picture with like flowers and people were just going in and like taking pictures and putting flowers and sharing what they thought,” said Tadesse.

Linman watched Juan Carlos grow up since the seventh grade as his former principal at Sylvester Middle School.

“He was a student like many of our students in middle school that struggled and needed some support. And so, we got real close. Me and his father got real close. that’s when our relationship started,” said Linman.

Friday morning, Juan Carlos’ father and sister visited with classmates and staff. It was an emotional day for Linman.

“It was nice to give him a hug and share that pain with him. But I think that he drew a lot of strength from being in in this close-knit family that we have here at Mount Rainier that knew Juan Carlos and loved him,” said Linman while holding back tears.

Juan Carlos was known as a student who took great pride in his involvement in the school’s Latino community. A moment of silence was scheduled at the school’s football game in his honor.

“He made great decisions every day to come to school and be a part of our community here at Mount Rainier [high school]. And he was just a special kid that worked really hard to do what he could to be successful,” said Linman.

The King County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to look for information that would help lead to an arrest. Detectives asked the public to contact them if anyone saw anything suspicious on or near Green Valley Road on Monday or Tuesday. Investigators encouraged people to call them at 206-296-3311.

Family of Juan Carlos started a GoFundMe account to help cover funeral arrangements.

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