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Palm Beach Central student, 17, mourned; homicide remains a mystery

At the beginning of the school day Thursday, Palm Beach Central’s campus of nearly 3,000 students paused for a moment of silent reflection.

It was for 17-year-old Dalton Dobkins, a senior who was shot and killed in his home Wednesday.

“The kids, as well as the teachers, are definitely struggling with it. He was a fantastic kid that reached kids across the spectrum,” Principal Darren Edgecomb said. “He seemed to have a wide influence on a lot of kids. He seemed to be extremely well-liked.”

Dobkins was found in a residence at The Estates at Wellington Green, near the southwest corner of the mall, by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies early Wednesday. PBSO hasn’t released many details about the mysterious crime, but spokeswoman Teri Barbera said the incident is being investigated as a homicide. It is the 71st of the year in the county.

PBSO hasn’t named any possible suspects, and deputies are asking anyone who knows anything to come forward.

There haven’t been any other calls for service at the residence this year, Barbera said. Crime at the complex has been sparse during the past three months. Deputies have only responded to minor incidents like three burglaries from vehicles.

Wellington is typically viewed as a safe area with almost no gun violence. Other than a deputy-involved shooting this year of a man who reportedly refused to drop his knives, there hasn’t been a shooting death in Wellington since a gas station clerk was killed in May of 2014. Two women were also killed in domestic violence cases in 2015, but neither involved a gun.

The Mall at Wellington Green is a busy place, but even it doesn’t have much crime. The most common crime at the mall is shoplifting, and there were less than 200 incidents in 2015.

Supporters have set up a GoFundMe page to help the Dobkins family with funeral costs, whcih has raised more than $2,900.

“He had a strong passion for fishing, and he was preparing himself for the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp scheduled for July,” a portion of the page’s description says.

About 80 people lit candles near the apartment Wednesday night to pay tribute to Dobkins. They described him as a good person, athletic and hardworking.

Palm Beach Central had grief counselors in the school for students who felt like they needed to talk to someone.

Students were meeting with counselors Wednesday before the homicide was confirmed, Edgecomb said, because they had found out about the tragedy in the neighborhood. Those counseling sessions continued Thursday as students attempted to come to grips with the senseless tragedy.

The students have come together to comfort each other, hugging and crying over the loss.

“There have been some emotional displays of affection,” Edgecomb said. “They are grief stricken.”

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