Originally Published: August 31, 2018 9:39 p.m.
The Prescott High School junior who died of a gunshot wound to the head on Aug. 26 is described by a close family friend as a teenage boy with a “big heart who was always loved by everybody.”
The death of the teen, identified by multiple sources and school officials as Nicolaus “Nico” Salazar, proves a double blow to his family and close friends who a year ago mourned the motorcycle-crash death in May 2017 of his father, Jayme Salazar, 51, the co-owner of Taco Don’s and the Prescott Tire Co.
Over the course of this week, Nico’s friends and those who knew his father have left messages on the windows at the taco restaurant on Miller Valley Road.
At least half a dozen Prescott High School students and a couple teachers have sought out counseling offered at Prescott High School. Some have also created tributes to their classmate and friend.
A close acquaintance, who asked not to be identified out of respect for his family, said Nico was a “great kid” who in the last year was struggling some as he was broken-hearted over the loss of his father. Yet the friend, who considered himself a “brother” to Nico’s father, said he was beyond shocked to get a call from the hospital that the boy was the victim of a gunshot wound.
Prescott Police are investigating the death, and so far this week have not confirmed details of the circumstances involved in the death. School officials, however, stated in a note to Prescott High School parents that the shooting was believed to be accidental.
In a voice mail message late Friday afternoon, Prescott Police Deputy Chief Amy Bonney said the department still does not have a definitive statement to make about Nico’s death as it is still awaiting information from the Medical Examiner’s Office.
“This is just devastating. Life can just change in a few seconds,” said the family friend, who added that he is frustrated with the delay in obtaining information from the police about exactly what happened.
Rumors have been circulating through social media, and within the school community, that Nico was with a group of other teenagers when the shooting happened. Other details about whether it was accidental or intentional have not been confirmed by the police.
Family friends said this week they have been asked not to speak about the matter publicly until the police finish the investigation.
The first alert to Prescott High School families of the tragedy came through an email sent to parents from Principal Mark Goligoski dated Aug. 26.
“It is with great sadness that I must inform you that one of our 11th Grade Prescott High School students, Nicolaus ‘Nico’ Salazar, died over the weekend. The Prescott Police Department is currently investigating his death. We do not have any details, but we can share that he died from an accidental gunshot wound,” the announcement said.
Goligoski then detailed that counseling would be available to all students and staff on Monday and other days as necessary.
“We ask parents and other family members to support their child by being willing to discuss the situation as much as is comfortable and more importantly, let their child know that the Prescott High School community is here to support each other during this time of sadness … Once again, I am sorry to share this horrible news, yet appreciate all of your support for Nico’s family and our school community.”
Nico has a sister and a large extended family in the area.
No funeral or memorial arrangements have been made in Prescott at this time, the family friend said.
“This is just the hardest thing. It’s devastating. He was such a good kid,” the family friend said.