SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A community is still in mourning nearly one week after 11-year-old Brexialee Torres-Ortiz was shot and killed steps away from her family’s home on Oakwood Avenue in Syracuse on Monday night.

Many are turning to their faith to try and process the senseless tragedy. During Sunday morning mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church on the south side of Syracuse, there was a tribute to Brexi.

Family, friends, teachers and classmates filled the pews for the special mass. A way to honor and remember Brexi’s life cut far too short.

12-year-old Shakiaris Lind was a dear friend of Brexi’s. The two went to school together and their families are very close.

“Her friendship meant, to me, everything. She meant everything to me because she was just a bright little child. She was amazing.”


Brexi’s mother, Brenlee Ortiz, sat in the front row of the church on Sunday morning full of grief, but she spoke about how grateful she is for all of Brexi’s teachers.

“It wasn’t only us as a family but it was you guys,” Brenlee said on the alter. “She spent most of her time at school with you.”

Those teachers read a poem during mass. Each letter of Brexialee’s name gave us a glimpse of who she was and the legacy she leaves behind.

  • B – Beautiful ray of sunshine
  • R – Respectful to all around her 
  • E – Enthusiastically positive 
  • X – Exceptional hugs and smile 
  • I – Inspirational leader 
  • A – Active in her school and community 
  • L – Lovable, kind and compassionate 
  • E – Eager to learn and grow 
  • E– An everlasting legacy

“Every time you feel like you can’t or you’re not going to make it, remember her smile.”


Gloria Kimmich and Iliana Rosa were both Brexi’s kindergarten teachers at Seymour Dual Language Academy. They said nobody else could have brought all of the current and former teachers together.

“Nobody could have possibly done this without Brexialee. Don’t forget who Brexialee was. Take a little bit of who she was with you day to day, and just don’t forget.”


As of Sunday, January 22, no arrests have been made in the deadly shooting that took Brexialee’s life.

Anyone with information is urged to call Syracuse Police at 315-442-5222 or download the Tip 411 app. Your tips can remain anonymous.