DENVER — Patrick Kraft's classroom at Teller Elementary School hasn't felt emptier, despite a nearly-full attendance.
One of Kraft's students has been absent from his class since Tuesday.
"The child keeps crying," said Natalia Gama Ndongalari, the student's aunt. "He cries out, "I want my dad, I want my dad, I want my dad.""
Ndongalari was forced to explain to the student and his sister that their father, Emanuel Amani, was shot and killed Monday. It's been challenging for a family still grasping the news themselves.
"I can't. I can't believe that," said Ndongalari, Amani's sister. "It's very hard for me."
Police records show officers were called to Amani's apartment complex twice Monday evening for reports of a suspicious man, but were unable to locate him. Less than two hours later, that man fatally shot Amani outside his apartment near an alley while police were on-scene searching for the suspect.
"He was a good man," said Ndongalari. "He is a man of God, he is a good father."
Amani was a former teacher in Congo and moved his family to Colorado for a chance at a better life. He worked the graveyard shift at a grocery store stocking shelves so he could be with his children during the day. School staff say he was also a huge supporter of the teachers at his son's school.
"He was one of those people that stood out to make sure that you understood that he valued you and what you were doing for his kid," Kraft said.
Principal Sabrina Bates says Amani served on the district's multilingual committee.
"He was an advocate for families much like his and did it with such grace and with so much respect, not only for our school but for the district as a whole," Bates said.
That's why so many around Amani were inspired.
"To see a Black father that's doing all the right things and supporting his family has always given me a sense of pride," said Jason Smartt, Teller Elementary Dean of Culture.
Amani was the sole provider for his family, so school staff started a GoFundMe online fundraiser for them. The community has raised more than $28,000 in one day.
"[Emmanuel] was a guy who will give you the shirt off his back, and so I think I would just tell him, "We're going to give it back to you. We're going to make sure that your kid is going to achieve what you were hoping in the future,"" Kraft said.
Amani gave his children and his family the tools for a brighter future, though his own was cut tragically short.