BRADDOCK, Pa. — Thursday night’s vigil was another painful step for the Braddock community toward recovering from Sunday night’s tragedy when two 17-year-olds were gunned down and another teenager was sent to the hospital.
Channel 11′s Pete DeLuca was there and spoke to friends and family of the victims.
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The celebration of life included a large balloon release and the lighting of candles to pay tribute to the two young lives taken too soon.
“Forever 17″ was a tribute called out as balloons were released high into the night sky in Braddock at the same spot where Nazir Parker and Rimel Williamson were shot and killed.
“It means a lot. It just shows that we can all come together as a community and it doesn’t have to be so much chaos. When I look around and see all these people, it brings a lot of joy to my heart,” said Wandalyn Middlebrook, Nazir’s grandmother.
Grateful for the large showing of support, Middlebrook says she wants people to remember her grandson as someone who was kind to all.
Wandalyn Middlebrook, Nazir’s grandmother:
“Nazir was a nice kid,” said Middlebrook. “He was very mannerable [sic], a ‘Yes sir,’ ‘No ma’am,’ type of kid. He was really funny. He liked to have fun and be around his friends and be a typical teenager. He just liked enjoying life.”
Middlebrook says Nazir and Rimel were best friends.
Rimel’s friends Giana Flick and Skyler King are devastated.
“He always tried to push me down the right path and I really thank him for that because now I’m really going to live for him and I’m going to do what he really wanted me to do,” King said.
Sen. John Fetterman, the former Mayor of Braddock, joined the somber gathering to support the victims’ families and the community he calls home.
“It’s heartbreaking. I can’t possibly say anything that would mean anything to anyone having their son, or their brother, or their friends cut down in a senseless act,” Sen. Fetterman said.
The grieving families are now praying for justice and calling for change to end gun violence.
“The kids, they’ve got too much freedom and they feel like they can just do whatever and there is no recourse for anything they do,” Middlebrook said. “I feel like some of these parents really need to start being parents and not just being friends with your kids. There’s a difference.”
Allegheny County police have not announced any arrests. If you know anything that can help investigators you’re asked to give them a call.
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