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Community mourns teen killed in Central Islip park

Rev. Martin Curtin of St. Joseph the Worker in East Patchogue spoke Tuesday, April 18, 2017, about how he planned to comfort mourners at Wednesday's funeral for Justin Llivicura, 16, a Bellport High School student who lived in East Patchogue and was one of four young men found killed in a Central Islip park last week. Credit: News 12 Long Island) (Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara; David Olson, John Roca, Family photos

Justin Llivicura’s mother sat sobbing before her son’s wooden coffin, a spray of white carnations draped over it, as family and friends gathered to mourn the teen Tuesday.

“God will get justice for my son because my son did not deserve that kind of death,” said Blanca Zhicat at her son’s wake at the Robertaccio Funeral Home in Patchogue.

Llivicura, 16, a student at Bellport High School who lived in East Patchogue, was one of four young men found savagely killed in a Central Islip park last Wednesday. Police have not announced any arrests in the slayings but have said they believe the killings are the work of MS-13 gang members.

Police have identified the other victims as Jorge Tigre, 18, of Bellport; Michael Lopez Banegas, 20, of Brentwood; and Banegas’ cousin Jefferson Villalobos, 20, of Pompano Beach, Florida.

Dozens of friends and family members stopped by Tuesday afternoon — a sunny and warm spring day — to pay their respects to the boy described as a jokester, who liked spending his time playing with his dog and listening to music.

A single Suffolk County police car with a patrol officer inside sat in the parking lot of the funeral home as visitors trickled in and out.

Marcelo Llivicura, the slain teen’s father, sat rigid in his chair inside the funeral home, keeping a steely gaze directed at his son’s coffin as his wife cried.

“He was just starting out in the world,” the distraught father said.

“He was very loving. He didn’t have problems with the law. He didn’t have problems with anyone. He’s never given me a problem. He never went out. He was always respectful, my son. And now he went ahead to heaven,” he said.

A video screen inside the funeral home played a montage of photos of Justin Llivicura set to music: images of him as a baby lying on a bright teal bedspread, sitting on Santa Claus’ lap as a young boy, and more recently, taking the typical bathroom mirror selfie.

Among the mourners were the teen’s teachers and district administrators. Some crying, they prayed before his coffin and stopped to speak to his parents, telling animated stories of teaching their son.

Loraine McCray, who was his teacher from sixth grade to eighth grade at Bellport Middle School, said Llivicura was “just a regular boy” whom she described as “very sweet, quiet” and “never involved in any real trouble.”

“He’s going to be missed,” said McCray, who said she was shocked to hear of the killings. “It’s just pretty horrific . . . the loss of young people.”

She said the school community was trying to help the students process their grief.

“This is not just an inner city or an urban issue; this is definitely a suburban issue, and we have to start to create the strategies that are necessary to prevent our students, prevent our children, from wanting to be involved in these kind of activities,” McCray said.

“It is really awful to see our young men being cut down in the prime of their lives before they have a chance to really live, knowing that his future has been blotted out. It’s going to be a loss that’s going to be felt for years to come. But I believe that we’re going to be able to teach our students to become stronger, and to be more aware and not be so trusting.”

— With Mark Morales


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