Duquesne vigil remembers victims of violence
Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of Don Jones.
The 18-year-old from Duquesne died on April 16, 2012, at UPMC McKeesport.
He had been shot in an alley along the 500 block of Ferndale Avenue in Duquesne.
His mother Lueana Coward marked the anniversary with a candlelight vigil near the scene of the shooting, joined by family and friends who have lost loved ones to violence.
“I was hoping that we could all gather together and grieve together,” Coward said. “Every time I pass this area, in my heart I can feel that day. I can feel the running. I can feel my son laying there.
“Stop the violence, please. We've got to use another approach. I'm putting that magic word in there, please. We want to bring peace back into our communities.”
Coward is a Duquesne native who now lives in McKeesport. She lost two other sons to violence years ago.
Harry Coward, 18, was shot and killed on May 11, 2001. He was a guest at a barbecue along S. Fifth Street in Duquesne when he was shot 10 times as he walked through a side yard to leave the party.
James Jones, 17, was shot in the back on Dec. 11, 2005, when he got out of a car on Pittsburgh's North Side.
Two have been convicted in James Jones' murder, but Don Jones and Harry Coward's murders remain unsolved.
In 2009, Lueana Coward co-founded the nonprofit organization RELIEF — Recognizing Every Lingering Inward Emotional Feeling.
“In that group, nobody has to grieve alone,” Coward said. “Together we stand and divided we fall. Whoever's here, that's who God wanted to be here.”
Duquesne resident Connie Lucas said her son, Wayne Staples, was killed in July 2002.
“Maybe something will snap and people will see that we're losing our children in this community,” Lucas said. “We know the problem, but what's the solution? To me, it's education. The Bible says we perish because of lack of knowledge. What's happening in our communities today is educational genocide. We need our children educated to know who they are, what they are, that they're important. Give them opportunity to come out in the community to be viable citizens in the community. You can only be that through education.
“I'm tired of coming together for funerals. We want to come together for some happy events.”
The Rev. Timothy L. Caldwell Sr. of New Life Deliverance Ministries in Duquesne wasmaster of ceremonies at Tuesday's vigil.
“We are here to sit for our babies,” Caldwell said. “They still need to grow. The only way they can grow is if we stop this nonsense. This violence has to stop. If it doesn't stop, there's not going to be another generation because we are exterminating our ownselves.”
New Life Deliverance Ministries choir performed, and Coward sang her anti-violence song, “Murder.”
A wooden memorial with posters of Coward's sons and other victims of violence was placed in the area.
Motivational speakers and leaders of organizations such as Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder also spoke.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.