‘I was so proud of both of them’: Father of teenagers killed in Garfield Heights shooting speaks out

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The father of the two teenage siblings who police say were killed by their mother’s boyfriend, says he cannot understand why someone would take their lives.

“I don’t want any other person to feel this pain,” said Manuel Lopez, Sr.

Lopez’s daughter, Giselle Lopez, 19, and her brother Manuel Lopez, Jr., 17, were shot and killed outside of their Garfield Heights home Wednesday night.

Giselle graduated from Garfield Heights High School with honors last May. Manuel, also known as Manny, had just begun his senior year at the school.

“I was so proud of both of them,” said Lopez, Sr.

29-year-old Matthew Nicholson is charged with two counts of murder and three counts of domestic violence. Garfield Heights police said he works as a private security officer.

Officers responded to a house on East 86th Street shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday for shots fired. When they arrived, they found Giselle and Manuel bleeding heavily in the driveway.

Their mother told officers the shooter was Nicholson, her live-in boyfriend who barricaded himself in the house.

The SWAT team was called to the scene and after about four hours of negotiating, the alleged gunman surrendered. Police say Nicholson was wearing a bullet-proof vest when he walked out of the house.

The incident started with an argument between the victims' mother and the suspect. Manuel intervened to defend his mother and the suspect threatened to kill everyone, according to the report. As the two victims left the house with their mother, the suspect stepped outside and fired a pistol.

The teens’ father said he had never met Nicholson and that his children never mentioned any sign of violence in the home.

Lopez, Sr. said Giselle was currently attending classes at the western campus of Cuyahoga Community College, studying to be nurse. She graduated high school with a 4.1 GPA.

Lopez, Sr. said he last saw his son hours before the shooting Wednesday.

“He was excited. He told me he had just gotten hired at Target,” said his father.

Garfield Heights High School’s principal released a statement on the school website Thursday saying,

“By now, you have likely learned about the tragic death of one of our very own students, Manny Lopez and a recent alumnus, Giselle Lopez, who are brother and sister, during the overnight hours in an unfortunate altercation. Although the incident took place away from school grounds, it has powerfully impacted our school family to its core. We view the High School as an extension of your family, and when something happens to one of us, it truly affects us all…That is the purpose of this call, to solemnly recognize the tragedy that has taken place…about which you will undoubtedly see more, and hear more on the news…and to let you know that we are here for your children. This matter has been addressed in class throughout the day today… The District has had, and will have grief counseling professionals available to all students and staff during the school day into the near future… And, a comprehensive listing of grief, domestic violence and crisis resources will be available on our District homepage. Once again, we as a school family are here to help. Matters such as these often prompt questions and strong emotions…and we encourage you to please take time to talk with your children about this untimely and tragic matter… utilize the online resources that the District will be posting in the near future…and please feel free to contact us at the schools at any time.”

The teens have an older brother, Roberto, who is serving in the Army and stationed in Louisiana. He is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland Thursday evening.

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created to help the family during this hard time.  You can donate here.

Continuing coverage.