PURCELLVILLE, Va. (WJLA) - Students at Loudon Valley High School were especially colorful Tuesday, with many wearing tie-dye t-shirts.
But the clothing choice was much more than just a fashion statement - it was all in tribute to their fellow student, 17-year-old Christian Sierra, who was shot to death on Saturday by police.
"He likes tie-dye, and we are all doing this in his honor, to remember him, and to come together as a school," student Charlie Rehliff told ABC7.
Christian was shot on Saturday by a Purcellville police officer after the teen threatened suicide while at a friend's home.
Police were reportedly called and approached him about a block away from that friend's home. Christian allegedly lunged at the officer with the knife, and the officer fatally shot him.
The incident has left students shaken.
"I'm sure he had reasons that I can't...no one person can fathom, that was on his mind," said Stephen Katterman, who said he has known Christian since the sixth grade.
Stephen said he remembers Christian as someone "wise" and "positive."
"When I would have bad days at school, he would say, 'don't worry about these kids - five, 10 years down the road, they're not going to matter.'" Stephen recalled.
Stephen said there's a powerful lesson to be learned as a result of his friend's death.
"It's hard for one to go up to someone and ask for help," he said.
And while he mourns the sudden loss of his friend, Stephen said he manages to sympathize with the person who ended his life.
"This police officer who shot [Christian] also is dealing with this trouble as well; what he did," he said.
Police will not disclose exactly how many shots were fired during the incident, but ABC7 does know that the officer was not injured. The officer is on administrative leave pending the investigation.