WYLIE — He lost a son, but Flavio Mejia seems to have somehow gained faith.
"When we know God, it's peace in our heart and soul," he said Monday night, explaining why he continues to ask for forgiveness for the two Wylie East High School students accused of killing his son, Ivan.
"God is in my heart and in my family. That's why we decided to do that," he said.
Ivan Mejia had already taken his senior photos. He should have returned to school Monday after spring break to finish out his final year.
But he died on March 8.
Police said his murder was planned and carried out by Brenden Bridges and Adam Staup, and it was allegedly over a girl.
"It's very difficult to talk about minors — 16, 17 years old," Flavio Mejia said, in slightly broken English. "Why the law cannot judge like an adult if they make the same things like me or somebody else can do?"
Mejia asked reporters to come to his home Monday evening so he could continue to preach a message of unity and change. He spoke mostly in his native Spanish, but answered several questions in English, explaining that no one can believe what happened.
"What happened to the Mejia family can happen everywhere," he said as he looked up and down his street just a few blocks from the high school. "My neighbors, nobody is happy. Why? Because the children running over there, riding bicycles, playing basketball — we don't feel it's secure. Something is missing."
A juvenile probation officer testified at a court hearing that Bridges and Staup tied a sock around Ivan's mouth, held his nose, and put him in a choke hold. The murder had been planned for days, the officer said.
It happened behind the high school all three attended. Police said they found Bridges and Staup as they tried to dump Ivan's body in Garland.
Mejia was visibly shaken when asked about the circumstances surrounding his son's death.
"I know it was a very difficult situation for my son," he said. "But I know, because we raised him with good principles, I'm very sure he fought to the last moment."
Mejia said he feels comfort and "100 percent support" from the community, but he wants to see change.
He has already met with the family of Nahum Martinez, another Wylie East student who was murdered two years ago. Mejia would like to work with the Martinez family to develop some sort of curriculum to encourage better behavior within the Wylie student body.
"I want to make sure our community changes and unites," he said.