BIDDEFORD — The shooting deaths of Derrick Thompson and Alivia Welch mark the second time in three years Biddeford teenagers have dealt with the murder of friends.
Thompson and Welch were shot to death Saturday in their Sokokis Road apartment, apparently during a dispute with the landlord over parking during a snowstorm. The landlord, 74-year-old James Pak, has been charged with two counts of murder.
Biddeford High School Principal Britton Wolfe said this is not the first time teenagers in the city have been affected by murder. He said some of Thompson’s friends were also friends with Derek and Gage Greene, brothers who were shot to death on South Street on June 30, 2009.
“This is a generation in this community that has been devastated by gun violence,” Wolfe said. “These kids are devastated. There are kids I know who are not over Derek and Gage’s murders yet and I don’t know if they ever will be.
“This generation of youth have just seen four of their friends killed by gun violence in the last three years,” he continued. “Senseless tragedy doesn’t even begin to describe the reality of it. It’s just crazy.”
Friends of the couple will hold a candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. today at Clifford Park in Biddeford.
The Biddeford High School community may try to start a conversation about gun violence as students deal with the murders, Wolfe said. Those conversations could include the larger community, but Wolfe said no specific plans have been made.
Wolfe said he is more focused on helping students – including Thompson’s younger siblings who attend Biddeford schools – deal with the tragedy. Thompson graduated from the school’s alternative pathways program in 2011.
“I just want to help them any way I can with ways to speak out about it,” he said.