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Friends Say Goodbye to Juan Ramos By Judith Scherr

Friday February 17, 2006

Juan Carlos Ramos didn’t know how much he was loved, friends said through tears Wed-nesday at a memorial for the 18-year-old Contra Costa College student, who was mortally stab-bed Feb. 10 at a party in Berkeley. 

“He was the sweetest guy ever, it breaks my heart, ” said Victoria Castillo who helped plan the memorial and had accompanied Ramos to the party. “I wish I could go back in time. I’m sure he’s smiling down on us.” 

Police still have no suspects in the murder that took place on the 700 block of Contra Costa Avenue at an unchaperoned party, which attracted more than 100 young people. Many learned of the event through a posting on the Internet. 

The memorial, which drew some 200 students mostly from Albany and El Cerrito high schools, took place on the grassy median on Key Route Boulevard, just about where Albany meets El Cerrito. Friends, family members, and school staff spoke of Ramos, often glancing behind them at the large photograph of the young man to which Mexican and American flags were affixed. Flowers, balloons, and candles were placed on a table near the photograph. 

Linda Montecino, Ramos’ sister-in-law, thanked the young people for planning the memorial. 

“We came today to support the kids,” she said through tears. “Sometimes we forget in our grief, that you are hurting too. He was so sweet, so good and caring to all of us.” 

Ramos graduated in January from El Cerrito High and had begun studying to be an electrician at Contra Costa College. 

“He was a neat kid,” said Maureen Crowley, a math teacher who knew Ramos for more than three years. 

Ramos loved soccer, cars—especially his red Camaro—and his friends, even those he hadn’t seen in years, friends said. 

Jake Johnson, a student at Berkeley High, ran into him at the Friday night party. 

“We were talking about old times,” he said, adding that he was inside the house when the stabbings were taking place outside. 

“Inside, everything was completely normal,” he said. 

Several students pleaded with their peers, urging those with information about the slaying to come forward. 

“If anyone knows, say the name,” one young man said. “Just turn his ass into the police.” 

El Cerrito High teacher Bonnie Taylor urged the young people to stay safe. 

“Parties are to get dressed up and kick it. Death is forever. I don’t want that to happen to any one of you,” she said. 

Even before Ramos’ death, Albany High faculty was talking about creating a new curriculum to instruct young people on staying safe and “what to do when a situation gets out of hand,” said Albany High Principal Ron Rosenbaum, who attended the memorial. 

Rosenbaum said the youth’s death further convinced him of the need for such a curriculum. It will be taught next school year, he said..