Memorial grows for Air Academy High School student at Colorado Springs Walgreens
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Air Academy High School students are placing flowers at a Walgreens on Centennial Boulevard on Tuesday evening to honor the life of one of their peers.
Air Academy High School Principal Dan Olson sent out a letter to families Sunday night notifying them of the death of a student named Riley Whitelaw over the weekend. Details surrounding her death were not released, but Olson said that the school is planning to provide grief counselors for their students moving forward for an indefinite period of time.
"The loss of a fellow student and friend is incredibly difficult, and students may have worries, questions, and high emotions. They may feel sad, depressed or even angry. Therefore, it is in moments like these that we must come together and create networks of support. Please keep the AAHS family in your thoughts and hearts during this difficult time," Olson's letter read.
The community started leaving flowers at the Walgreens over the weekend, with friends of Whitelaw telling KRDO they were there to honor the Air Academy teen. Though it's not officially clear if the circumstances are connected, police investigated a homicide at the same Walgreens location on Saturday night.
The Colorado Springs Police Department said they found someone dead inside the Walgreens just before 7 p.m. on Saturday. The following day, police said troopers with Colorado State Patrol arrested 28-year-old Joshua Johnson on I-25 near Walsenburg. Johnson is now facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with the Walgreens incident.
Authorities have not yet identified the murder victim.
Johnson appeared in court virtually on Monday to be advised of his charges. He'll be back in court on June 21st.
According to court records, Johnson does not have an extensive criminal record. He did plead guilty to a careless driving charge stemming from an event out of El Paso County in October of 2021 but had no other visible criminal history.
A vigil for Riley Whitelaw is now planned for 8 p.m. at Air Academy High School, after initial plans listed the location as the Walgreens. Organizers are asking the community to bring photos of Riley and things that remind them of her, in an effort to honor her life and make sure she's not forgotten.