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Mario Ramirez

Altadena fifth graders discover power of prayer after classmate’s shooting

Mario Ramirez smiling during class
“But what you have to understand is that this isn’t something they’re just doing now because of what happened to their friend. These kids pray all the time.”

-Dr. Phyllis Cremer

When Dallas McGowan, a fifth-grader at St. Elizabeth of Hungary School in Altadena, found out his best friend and classmate Mario Ramirez had been shot, he was, according to his mother Denise, “shocked.”

Mario is a basketball playing, Laker loving, video-game enthusiast — in other words, a normal 10-year-old boy. In fact, according to St. Elizabeth principal Phyllis Cremer, Ph.D., Mario was playing a game online with a friend from St. Elizabeth on Valentine’s Day when he told them he had to go do something.

He left, but didn’t come back.

Mario went outside and in a case of horrific happenstance, was caught in the crossfire of a shooting outside his house. He was hit by several bullets and rushed to the hospital. His injuries were life-threatening, doctors said.

Kids being far more plugged in than their parents, Dallas knew the horrible news before Denise. When he told her what had happened, the whole thing was so grotesquely unimaginable, that she snapped at him, “That’s not funny.”

Learning soon after that it was true, she returned to her son, who made a simple request.

“He asked me, ‘Can you pray with me?’ ”

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