Regretfully, the Saint Leo community is in mourning, as it lost one of its own last weekend. On the afternoon of Sept. 11, senior Alexis “Pancho” Carrera was found unresponsive in his campus residence hall. Campus Security and Safety reacted instantly by calling 911, with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office responding to the situation as well. The Sheriff’s Office is handling the case from here on out.
On Sunday night, the St. Leo Benedictine Abbey was packed with Alex’s family and friends, his Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers, some Saint Leo staff members, and even students that didn’t know him showed up to support and honor his memory.
On Monday evening, these same students in addition to faculty and staff members gathered in the SCC Courtyard for a candlelight vigil in honor of Carrera and his loved ones. Members of his family wept as they sat in the center of the courtyard next to the podium as prayers were said and speeches were made.
The vigil opened with a prayer said by Father Kyle for Carrera and those who loved him, followed by a moment of silence. Scripture was then read, and intentions for the healing of Carrera’s family and friends were offered. Carrera’s fraternity brothers, all dressed in suits, then gathered in the center of the courtyard to tell stories of their times with their brother. They spoke of the many fun times they shared with Carrera, his great character, how they never once knew him to be upset or down, and his natural talent for bringing people together, never leaving anyone out.
University President William J. Lennox, Jr. then offered his condolences and support. Additionally, he thanked everyone for practicing the Saint Leo core value of community during this time of loss and grief. He called for continued support for everyone affected by this tragedy.
The vigil closed with a prayer for Carrera to rest in peace. Led by the brothers of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, many then personally approached the weeping family to offer condolences as University Ministry passed out tissues. A Kappa Sigma brother then spoke again, thanking everyone for their support and informed them that they will be creating a GoFundMe account for donations to Carrera’s family for funeral and burial expenses. The link to the account can be found here. Additionally, they will be setting up a box on campus to collect any donations anyone wishes to offer the family.
A University Ministry staffer then translated for members of Carrera’s family as they spoke to the crowd, thanking everyone for the love and support. They spoke of Carrera’s ability to overcome obstacles, the hard work he put into his studies, his love for his family, and how he always strived for “harmony” within his family.
Diego Garcia, Carrera’s best friend, then spoke about the loss of his friend. He shared that they had known each other for years and knew everything about one another. He then thanked everyone that came and shared his belief that God does not give anything that can’t be handled or dealt with in time.
Carrera’s father then thanked everyone for the support from Saint Leo and for the “human love and compassion” he was experiencing. He explained that he knows that everyone is sharing the pain that he is feeling from this loss. He assured that Carrera was looking down on everyone now and that he will always live in the hearts of his loved ones. The Kappa Sigma fraternity then asked everyone to join hands, as they led the crowd in the “Our Father” prayer.
His mother, weeping, then thanked the campus community for loving Carrera. She shared that he was a good kid that loved his family immensely and noted that he talked about his life at Saint Leo constantly. She concluded with the sentiment that the way everyone is carrying Carrera in their hearts is the same way that he carried others in his.
The crowd then proceeded through the courtyard and breezeway of Apartment Building 5, where Carrera lived, down to the dock by Lake Jovita to watch the sunset in his memory. A student-led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace.”
Carrera, 21, was a senior Criminal Justice: Homeland Security major and is survived by his parents and siblings. His family currently resides in Fort Pierce, FL, but Carrera moved to the U.S. from Mexico when he was only seven years old, unable even to speak English yet.
The staffs of Residence Life, University Counseling Services, and Campus Ministry are available to support the student body in any way necessary during this difficult time.