Teachers remember Hamilton shooting victim for smile, kindness

You could ask any teacher at Hamilton High and they would tell you the same thing. KG worked hard, took school seriously. He had no patience for laziness. He worked full time while he was in school.

Hamilton High School teacher Lori Huff describing shooting victim Kalif Goens while he was a student at Hamilton High School.

KG was a special young man who always had a smile on his face. The years at HHS were really good he always had a hug and a sweet word when we passed each other in the hall.

Former Hamilton High School teacher Barbara Gaston discussing her time teaching Kalif Goens.

Kalif Goens, 22, died early Sunday morning after a shooting at Doubles Bar, 1555 Main St. The 2013 Hamilton High School student was remembered by two of his former teachers who spoke to the Journal-News about a young man who they said is gone way too soon.

Mondale Goens, 21, Kalif’s brother, was arraigned in Hamilton Municipal Court on charges of murder and two counts of felonious assault in connection with the shooting.

Lori Huff is a teacher at Hamilton High and she taught both Kalif and Mondale along with their brother Jaydale. She was shocked by the shooting and found herself looking at photos of Kalif and drawing on memories of him as a student.

“Kalif (I called him KG) was probably the happiest, most lovable kid I’ve ever met. If you talk to people who knew him, they will always mention his smile. He was always smiling and laughing … just a tremendously happy kid,” Huff said. “I recognized him with an award at the end of his senior year for attitude and leadership. I always told him that he made my little corner of the world at HHS a better place. And he did. I’m absolutely shocked and devastated by his death”

Huff said she talked often with Kalif about life and his future, as well as his young son (less than 1) he was so proud of.

“I know that KG was caught between conflicting influences in his life. He had been through a lot in his growing up years but always had high standards and rose above so much,” Huff said. “He was affectionately teased by other kids for being the ‘good kid,’ but they really respected him for being different.”

“I would really like people to know that about him,” she added, “to counter the assumptions that many have already made about who and what he was because of the manner in which he died.”

Barbara Gaston also taught Kalif in high school, and the recently retired educator also remembered his smile and easygoing demeanor.

“I just spoke to him last week and he sounded so good and he was looking forward to raising his young son,” Gaston said. “Teachers loved his funny jokes and never had a bad word to say about him. My heart is heavy for his family and his child who will never know his daddy. The world lost a good man. He didn’t deserve to die. He was a peacemaker not a troublemaker.”

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said the investigation into what happened Sunday morning continues and cooperation from those who were there is still needed. He added that the loss of life and uptick in violence is a concern for everybody in the community.

Police are hoping that by working with the community with a program called the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, which was started in 2014, some of the violence might be curbed.

Bucheit said the goal of the initiative, which operates in partnership with local and federal officials, is to target offenders with a history of gun violence and work with those offenders to prevent future violent crime.

Bucheit said Mondale Goens was was put on the list of people to be referred to the program shortly before the shooting at Doubles.

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