TOLEDO, Ohio — Alex Lazaney Molina, a third grader at Toledo's Bennett Venture Academy, was planning to visit his father, Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, next week, but then came tragedy.
Sergeant Lazaney-Rodriguez was killed April 2 by another soldier at Fort Hood, one of three victims in the shooting. Alex had planned to spend his spring break with his father, staff from the charter school said, but he now is going to Tampa for his father's funeral.
"Carlos dedicated his life to the Army to give his son a better life," Alex and his mother, Linda Molina, said in a statement. "That was his reason for re-enlisting every time."
Now, the school plans to rally around Alex. Students and teachers have sent messages of love and support by text, call, and email. And the school plans to hold a night of remembrance and celebration of Sergeant Lazaney-Rodriguez on May 29.
"As a school community, we want to rally around Alex and his family and show our support in such a difficult time," said Dawn Taylor, student-family liaison. "Alex is an incredible student and person. We want to help him honor his father in whatever way possible."
Along with Sergeant Lazaney-Rodriguez and the two other slain soldiers, 16 were wounded in the rampage at the Texas base before the suspect, Spec. Ivan Lopez, killed himself, authorities have said.
It's been tough for Alex to process what happened, Ms. Taylor said, especially the focus that's been placed on the shooter and not the victims. That's why the school wants to honor his father and to give Alex a forum to tell others how important his dad was, she said.
The grieving process, his family said, hasn't started, but the relatives are thankful for the support.
"We are proud of Carlos and see why he worked so hard for the cause he believed in," the family said.
Sergeant Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, was a 20-year Army veteran. He was just seven months from retirement.
His family said he looked forward to retirement so he could spend more time with his son.
"Carlos is a hero," his family said, "and as Alex states, just because his body goes to the ground, his bravery stays with us."
Sergeant Lazaney-Rodriguez was an Army recruiter in Toledo a decade ago and was well-remembered at Woodward High School. Meighan Richardson, a teacher at Woodward, said he was a constant presence at the school for at least a year.
Many Woodward students ended up joining the military during that time, she said. He was funny, caring, and genuine. And when it came to joining the military, he wasn't pushy with students, she said. If they said no, that was OK. He still would ask students about their grades or their lives.
"He wouldn't turn his back just because they didn't want to go into the military," Ms. Richardson said.
Bennett wants to send Alex and his mother to a horse therapy camp for children in military families this summer.
The school, at 5130 Bennett Rd., is accepting donations between 9 a.m. and noon the week of April 14, and between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. the week of April 22. Checks should be made out to Alex Lazaney Molina.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.