Thousand Oaks student who died from explosion remembered for intelligence, kindness and ‘huge smile’


Students who lost a friend, Bernard Moon, to an explosion on Monday had a chance to leave the 18-year-old parting messages at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday.

The notes were written and attached to clothes pins that dangled from a red frame at the front of the church, and they described Moon as kind, happy and smart.

“Your friendship made everybody’s lives better. I learned so much from you as a mentor, friend, and fellow adrenaline-junkie,” one note read.


“I looked forward to going to Berkeley with you next year and will think of you every day,” another friend had written.

“I feel like right now if you were here you would be smiling your huge smile and telling me to dance it off,” read a third note, addressed to “Bernie.” “Everywhere you went, you just lit up the room and everyone’s spirits around you.”

One just had a heart drawn in black ink.

Interested in the stories shaping California? Sign up for the free Essential California newsletter >>

Friends lit candles, and a picture of Moon was projected onto the wall. About 100 people attended, including students, parents and Thousand Oaks High School’s principal. Moon had died at Madrona Elementary School from an explosion of what authorities called a “homemade model rocket device.”

“He was one of the smartest kids I knew,” said Jonathan Hodges, 17, who said he and Moon had been friends since 8th grade. He wants Moon to be remembered for how smart, loving and outgoing he was.

Youth ministers at some local churches heard about Moon’s death from their youth groups, and wanted to organize an event where Moon’s friends could come together and remember him, said Quinn Stone, the youth director at Holy Trinity. He said Moon’s best friend is in his youth group, and called Stone on Monday night.

The remembrance was not coordinated with Moon’s family, who are not members of the church and were not at the church Tuesday night, Stone said.

A bright gold board inside was covered in colorful post-it notes with additional messages to Moon. Friends who had known him since kindergarten or fifth grade complimented his intelligence, his thoughtfulness and his bright personality.

Stone said he will collect all the notes and give them to Moon’s family.

See more of our top stories on Facebook >>

No one spoke publicly about Moon -- inside the church at 7 p.m., an hour after the remembrance began, some friends hugged each other, while others sat with their arms around friends’ shoulders, crying together. More stood outside, many wearing black.

At Madrona Elementary School, where the explosion that killed Moon injured another student Monday night, there was a single candle with three roses tied to the gate in front of the school Tuesday morning. By evening, the impromptu memorial had grown to include many more flowers and candles adorning the gate.

Times staff photographer Al Seib contributed to this report.


LAPD investigators now believe father who confessed to killing his son killed his wife first

UC offers admission to 15% more Californians, particularly Latinos and African Americans

Family questions circumstances surrounding death of woman in LAPD jail cell