Candlelight vigil marks 2-year anniversary of James Andre Sims' murder
The Rev. Karen Jones of Rainbow Temple Assembly of God in McKeesport delivered a powerful message on the two-year anniversary of resident James Andre Sims' death.
“We do these vigils every year, but are we learning from them?” Jones said at a candlelight vigil on Friday. “Are we coming here with that same mindset, an eye for an eye? We want justice to be done, but the best thing you can do is to pray that person be caught. ... We're hurting here. The parents are hurting here.”
Andre Sims, 20, was shot several times, including once in the head, on July 6, 2012, while sitting in his black 2012 Dodge Charger at the intersection of Pirl Street and Versailles Avenue. He died five days later when family removed him from life support.
More than 50 people gathered at that intersection to remember the young man and pray with his mother, Wanda Sims.
Attendees later traveled from the intersection to Andre Sims' gravestone in McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery.
Flowers were laid by the stone, and people released paper lanterns and dozens of heart-shaped balloons into the sky.
“My baby was loved. There's a lot of love,” Wanda Sims said. “It at least gives me a smile. I've been crying all day.”
Andre Sims worked at Taco Bell and at Alorica's West Mifflin call center — where his mother worked, too — to support his new family.
“My baby was working two jobs and was off the night (he was shot),” Wanda Sims said. “He was out for a little while and never came home.”
His son Josiah was born 18 days after he died. Josiah lives with his mother in another town.
Wanda Sims recalled talking with her family the night before she made the emotional decision to take her son off life support.
“It's very hard. I kept asking God to help me help my son,” she said. “I had to let him go. I couldn't watch him suffer anymore. It's very hard watching your child (like that).”
Wanda Sims still travels in the vehicle in which her son was shot. The interior was redone and decals such as crosses were put on the back window.
She said driving the car, especially by the Pirl Street intersection, helps keep her son's memory alive.
“My baby's with me,” she said. “Every time I ride around in it, I (am not) letting (anyone) forget about my baby.”
No arrests have been made and no new evidence reportedly has come forth to law enforcement since July 2012.
Wanda Sims said people have talked to her about the crime, but they will not talk to police.
“Everybody knows. Don't tell me, call the police and tell them,” she said. “They all know who killed my son for nothing.”
Anyone with information about the shooting can contact county police at 412-473-3000.
Jones' late husband, the Rev. Earl Jones, presided over last year's memorial service for his nephew Andre Sims.
“I know Earl would say that he doesn't want you to harbor hate (or) bitterness in your heart,” Karen Jones said. “All you're doing for the person who did this is supporting them. To take someone's life and care nothing about it, there's something wrong with that picture ... When you take someone's life you shouldn't be able to go on in peace. You're going to think about what you have done, and you are going to answer to a higher person than me, than the family or anyone else here.”
Karen Jones went on to call for an end to the violence and a revival of togetherness.
“There's so many bullets flying here in McKeesport every day, and let me tell you those bullets have no names on them,” Jones said. “These young ones out here playing, it could hit any one of them. These little kids need to be growing up with something in their mind other than guns and violence.”
She called out families who knowingly benefit from criminal activity.
“Some of these parents know exactly what their kids are doing, and they're fine with it,” Wanda Sims said. “They need to handle their kids.”
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McKeesport mayor believes city’s ceremony reflects Memorial Day’s true meaning
- LaRosa Boys & Girls Club of McKeesport remembers war dead
- Truck smashes into house, driver arrested in Elizabeth Township
- Blessing ceremony prays for McKeesport, summertime safety
- U.S. Steel gives $60,000 to scholarship program to help Mon-Yough area schools
- Officials envision reinvigorated Allegheny County Airport
- West Mifflin towing companies defend practices
- North Versailles commissioners withhold fire tax funds, cite 1 company’s noncompliance
- North Versailles names Matrazzo new police chief
- Police confiscate heroin, phones, cash in North Versailles bust
- Glassport honors native son as polka drummer