A week and a half before he died, Christian Riley Garcia told his mother he wanted to serve in the army — on the front line.
“As a mother that’s not what you want to hear,” his mother, Shannon Claussen, recalled. “And, he said, ‘No, that’s what I’m meant to do.’”
She believes Riley knew his God-given purpose.
“He said, ‘If I have to die fighting for what I believe in, for somebody else, so be it,’” Claussen added.
At just 15-years-old, he died protecting his classmates. He was one of 10 who were killed a year ago at the Santa Fe High School shooting.
Riley was laid to rest with military honors.
“I understand why he was so great because he would put every single person above himself. He would not leave that room until he got everybody out," his mother told FOX 26.
Claussen described how Riley lived a life of selflessness. She says he would come home from school hungry becuase he would give someone else his lunch money. She also remembered how people could return his jackets and hoodies at her house because he gave them to someone who was cold.
Riley's family partnered with filmmaker, Brandon Smith, to honor his legacy. The documentary is called Love Thy Neighbor and it should be complete next year.
"I want Riley to be remembered the way that he is remembered in this community -- the way he is remembered with his family," Smith said.
He wants people to know who Riley was and understand how school shootings impact communities.
"I think that there is a lot to learn about school shootings in general — how they affect us, how they affect communities," he added.
Despite the unimaginable pain, Claussen says Riley's life gives her hope.
"There’s still good, there’s still hope. If he would do what he did at 15-years-old, there’s hope for the rest of us," she concluded.
The family is also working to create the Christian Riley Garcia Foundation.