Salt Lake City Police Department
Enrique Deloza

SALT LAKE CITY — As Salt Lake police continue to investigate the fatal stabbing of a teen boy on a downtown street, friends are remembering him as someone with a big heart.

"He was just the greatest guy I've ever known. He was the most honest, selfless person. He cared so much about everybody else but himself. It's just a tragedy, really. His life was cut too short by some people who are really not in their right mind," said longtime friend Kiko Rios.

Friends say Marcelino "Marci" Johnson, 16, was walking with two girls Monday about 1 a.m. on 1300 South between Main and State streets when an argument started with another group. That argument continued down the street to Kensington Avenue (1530 South) and State Street.

At Kensington, the argument escalated and Marcelino was stabbed in the torso. The two teen girls he was with ran into nearby Piper Down Pub to seek help. Employees quickly ran outside to assist. But Marcelino died while in surgery at a local hospital.

Tuesday evening, Enrique Deloza, 28, was arrested for investigation of homicide in relation to the stabbing, according to Salt Lake police. Additional details about the arrest weren't immediately available.

Marcelino's friends say he was trying to protect the two girls from the other group.

"He died helping someone, and that's most honest thing someone can ever do in their life," Kiki Rios said.

Police investigators said they were still trying to confirm a possible motive for the attack.

Another friend, Rosie Rios, called Marcelino one of a kind.

1 comment on this story

"I honestly still don't believe it right now," she said. "I'll remember him just because he was always there. He'll always be my little brother."

Tributes were also posted on social media as word of Marcelino's death spread.

"marci, i cant believe it , you had a huge heart and were such a good kid always fun and uplifting, I wont forget you... r.i.p lil buddy, thank you for the memories and for being you," one man wrote.

A candlelight vigil for Marcelino is scheduled for Friday at Liberty Park.