Local HS Graduating Class Honors Slain Teen

Michael Taylor Honored At Point Loma High School Graduation Ceremony

It was a bittersweet graduation ceremony at Point Loma High School on Tuesday for a local family whose teenage son was shot and killed more than three years ago.

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The family of Michael Taylor invited 10News to share in what would have been their son's high school graduation.

Near the hundreds of students in their maroon and gold graduation gowns, Taylor's family members told 10News they had looked forward to this day for a long time.

"Just by knowing that this day is here, that this day is going on… it's amazing," said Taylor's mother, Denise Saunders. "It's really amazing."

More than three years ago, the Point Loma High School football player was shot and killed in Valencia Park.

"It's very uplifting to me because I am getting a chance to see all the things and the people who knew Mike and cared for him the way they did," said Taylor's father, Michael Taylor Sr. "It's a very uplifting day for me."

Seventeen-year-old Monique Palmer and 15-year-old Taylor were shot and killed in December 2008 as they walked home from a party. Friends and family say they were both good kids who stayed out of trouble and planned to go to college.

On the football field during the afternoon graduation, students and faculty held a moment of silence for Taylor and another student killed in a car crash.

10News learned that even as a freshman, Taylor was a stand-out football player at Point Loma High.

"It just broke our hearts when this tragedy happened," said Mike Hastings, the head football coach at Point Loma High School. "He had such a great future ahead of him."

Taylor's picture still hangs in the locker room.

"Michael was a beautiful young man – not just a great athlete, which he was – but also a great person," said Hastings. "Someone we miss every day."

Hastings said it is Taylor's bright smile that will forever be remembered by his teammates and his graduating class.

Saunders added, "I'm just honored that Point Loma would honor my son like that. I'm going to miss it [Point Loma High]. I am really going to miss it."

Last March, 22-year-old Frederick Cruz was sentenced in the shooting that killed Taylor and Palmer. Cruz will spend 50 years to life behind bars.

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