Friends Remember Jonathan Hoffman: 'Like a Brother to Me'
Two dozen people gather at Temple Israel on Monday night to share memories about the 17-year-old West Bloomfield resident who was shot and killed Friday .
As Max Dashevsky and friends were asked to recount minor details about their last day with 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman, the need to tell the bigger story grew Monday night.
Interchangeably known as a road trip partner, video games teammate and a first best friend, Hoffman was remembered at a small gathering Monday night before his Tuesday morning funeral.
The Farmington Central High School senior was fatally shot multiple times at his grandparents' West Bloomfield condominium Friday evening, officials say. His grandmother, Sandra Layne, was charged with murder Monday in his slaying. The teen's death and his grandmother's connection set off a shockwave in the community.
With rain moving in Monday evening, Dashevsky and about 25 friends moved from North Farmington High School, which Hoffman attended for about three years before transferring to Central, an alternative education facility, to Temple Israel in West Bloomfield to remember the best parts of their friendship and heal from the pain with help of Rabbi Joshua Bennett.
Ethan Pomish, a senior at North, recalled a road trip he took with Hoffman last summer. "He was growing up. I could tell he was starting to come out of his shell a little bit at the end of the trip," Pomish said.
The teens left from West Bloomfield and headed to Scottsdale, AZ, to the new home of Michael Hoffman, Jonathan's father. The friends spent a memorable three days together in a large truck carrying Hoffman's prized Mercedes-Benz, punctuated by "(Hoffman's) constant complaining."
Pomish gained relief in sharing the story. "There's a saying somewhere that if you've known a person 24 hours, then you know the kind of person they really are," he said. "Well, I spent 72 hours with Jon and I'll never forget him."
Dashevsky explained that as Hoffman's fascination with cars grew from when he received his driver's license at age 16, his fascination with computers remained constant. Hoffman would have likely ended up working as an engineer as an adult, Dashevsky theorized, and his attendance at parties to play multiplayer video games online was always assured.
"I got to know him playing RuneScape in ninth grade ... as much of a nerd as he was, it rubbed off on me a lot," Dashevsky said. "It was always a great thing about him, how he could do so much with so little.
"(Hoffman) was a genius ... like a little brother to me. No matter what you wanted to do, he was always down for it."
Taylor Onderko, a junior at West Bloomfield High, remembered that Hoffman gladly let her cut his hair, at age 6, after refusing to go to a barber. The two were friends through family connections, Onderko said.
"As long as I can remember, he could brighten up any room," Onderko said. "He was my first best friend. He was like a brother to me."
Hoffman is survived by his parents, Michael and Jennifer Hoffman, and a sister, Jessica Hoffman.
Funeral services for Jonathan Hoffman
Farmington Central High School will not be in session Tuesday so staff and students may attend Hoffman's funeral.
Family and friends will gather at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning at Ira Kaufman Chapel of Southfield, where Bennett will officiate at Hoffman's funeral. The service will be live-streamed online. Internment will follow at Machpelah Cemetery of Ferndale.