Published December 01. 2020 01:45PM
At a time when we’re dealing with a once-in-a-century pandemic, an area community must also process how a 15-year-old Pleasant Valley freshman lost his life during a drug deal gone horribly wrong.
Aiden Paiz of Polk Township, Monroe County, died at the scene of the bizarre event on Nov. 22.
Coming to terms with the unthinkable is nearly impossible, so family, friends, classmates and teachers grope for words, sentiments, explanations to make the pain more bearable and understandable. Those who knew and loved Aiden question whether he was an innocent victim and whether this was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At a vigil held in Aiden’s honor at the high school, speakers tried to put into words who Aiden was and how yet another young man will not enjoy the best of his teen years, his graduation from high school, a future life with family and friends and all of the other experiences he would have had if he were to have reached the full bloom of life.
The basketball team for which Aiden played will honor him throughout the 2020-21 court season, according to coach Bobby Hahn. “Aiden was such a great kid with a great personality; he was one of those kids who would always put a smile on your face and you couldn’t get mad at him,” Hahn told WFMZ-TV.
Friends described Aiden as a class clown of sorts, but he was a good student who tried to balance work and fun. “This is a child! He’s 15 years old. He’s not going to graduate. He’s not going to get married. He’s not going to swim in my pool next year,’’ said neighbor Elaine Caruso.
Police are still investigating all the details, but some neighbors believe that the cul-de-sac where the shooting in Polk Township occurred was a drug rendezvous point for area teens.
Here’s what we know based on police reports: An 18-year-old Polk Township man, Anthony Mitchell, and 15-year-old Michael Demuro-Correll of Kidder Township have been accused of involvement in the shooting of Paiz and an unidentified 17-year-old boy.
In a strange twist, Demuro-Correll was allegedly robbed of $120 by Mitchell and coerced into calling an unidentified 14-year-old to set up a marijuana drug deal.
A third teen, 18-year-old Justin Lemont of Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, who police said was the driver of the “getaway car,” was also charged with criminal homicide, robbery and conspiracy.
In addition to homicide, Mitchell and Demuro-Correll are charged with possession of a gun, and, additionally, Lemont is charged with evidence tampering.
According to police, all of the teens lived near each other in the western Monroe-eastern Carbon area.
From what police have been able to stitch together so far based on information from the suspects and a suspect’s sister, Mitchell had possession of an AR-15 rifle and a Glock pistol, even though he was prohibited from possessing weapons because of pending charges in Wilson Borough, Northampton County.
One of the charged teens told police the rifle “accidentally fired” during the holdup of the three teens. This caused Demuro-Correll to fire the pistol. Paiz was hit in the chest; the 17-year-old was shot several times, and the 14-year-old in the back seat ducked when the shooting began and was not hit. Paiz was pronounced dead at the scene. The 17-year-old was taken to a hospital for treatment.
When these types of incidents occur, the community, outraged that they would lose a teen in the flower of his youth, search for answers and wonder what might have been if events had unfolded differently.
According to the Recovery Village, a teen rehabilitation center, 44% of teens arrested for burglary attribute their crime to the need for money to buy drugs.
Teens are savvy when it comes to their knowledge of drug use. It’s a time when parents must help their children make positive choices about substance abuse and its consequences, but the truth is that teens are influenced way too often by their peers.
And then in this case, there is the additional component of deadly weapons, possibly originally intended as a scare tactic, but when a weapon is in the hand of an inexperienced user, way too many bad things can happen.
Another troubling aspect of this case is the belief that one of the teens belongs to the infamous Crips gang. We usually don’t associate gang membership to our region’s rural areas; we believe they are prevalent in cities. Well, perhaps we need to rethink our assumptions.
By Bruce Frassinelli | [email protected]
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