Mario Fierro was a “gifted teacher and a great human being,” said the San Diego Roman Catholic dicoese.  “He also served as the athletic director at Notre Dame Academy.” Photo via diocese

Cathedral Catholic High School families were in shock Monday upon hearing that popular teacher and coach Mario Fierro had been killed in North Park, and all classes at the Carmel Valley school have been canceled until Thursday.

“This morning, the San Diego Police Department informed us that one of our teachers, Mario Fierro, was found dead in a suspected homicide,” said diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery.  “Everyone in our school community mourns his loss.  Mario was young, vibrant and full of life.  All of us loved him.”

Fierro, 37, was fatally shot Monday on a North Park roadside.

Patrol officers responding to reports of gunfire shortly after 7 a.m. found the victim mortally wounded on a sidewalk in the 4500 block of Kansas Street.

Homicide detectives have learned that the victim may have been shot after getting into some kind of dispute with another man, who drove off to the north in a small older-model vehicle following the gunfire.

“It is early in the investigation, and little is known about the circumstances surrounding the man’s death,” Lt. Andra Brown said Monday afternoon.

“Mario graduated from CCHS/University High School in 2002 and returned to teach social science there starting in 2016,” Eckery said.

“Obviously, this is a shock.  Out of respect to Mario’s memory, all classes, in person and on-line, are canceled until Thursday.  Parents who dropped off their students earlier today were asked to pick them up as soon as possible.”

The Larry Himmel Neighborhood Foundation launched a fund at to help pay for his funeral, raising more than $3,700 by 4 p.m.

Eckery said grief counseling will be available for students, faculty and staff.

Because the killer is still at large, additional security has been posted on campus and San Diego police have stepped up patrols in the area, Eckery said.

Updated at 4:02 p.m. Feb. 1, 2021

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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