Slain Connellsville teenager to be mourned in public memorial service
Classmates, teachers and the community will come together this week to mourn and celebrate the life of Darrell Laki Ross Jr., the Connellsville Area High School junior football and baseball player shot to death Thursday in a Uniontown home.
Connellsville students are organizing a memorial service at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the high school auditorium to celebrate Darrell's life.
“The kids are the ones that really drove it,” Connellsville football coach and assistant principal David McDonald said. “My phone's been blowing up, and they're like, ‘Mr. McDonald, we've got to do something; Coach, we've got to do something.' ”
Connellsville seniors Marissa Adams and Tayla Taylor, close friends with Ross who both remember him for his humor and the joy he took in making others laugh, knew it would be important to organize an opportunity for those touched by the tragedy to come together and cope.
“We haven't really had a chance to see anyone else talk about it. I feel as kids, it's hard for us to talk about how we feel sometimes, especially with a loss so close to us,” Adams said. “I feel like if they can just see some of their classmates, some adults talk about it more, to let it out and come together as a community and let it out, it will help them with letting him go.”
Adams and Taylor will speak during the ceremony, along with some of Darrell's teammates from the school's football and baseball teams.
Ross died of a single gunshot wound in the head, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office.
Hasani Simpkins, 20, formerly of Philadelphia, was charged with criminal homicide, receiving stolen property and possessing firearms not to be carried without a license. He remains in the Fayette County jail without bail and has a preliminary hearing set for Tuesday before District Judge Michael Metros.
Students were reeling from the news of Ross' death on Friday.
“I wasn't going to go to school on Friday, but I did. Whenever I walked in, you could just feel the energy wasn't the same,” Taylor said. “There wasn't one person that wasn't crying. We were just all upset about it.”
“Especially as a school, I feel like we're one big family right now. Pretty much everyone in school knew him, so we're all just there for each other,” Adams added. “I remember (Friday) at school, I was hugging people I didn't even know.”
Visitation will be at Vito C. Martucci Funeral Home in Connellsville from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday and from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“Darrell, he made everybody laugh,” McDonald remembered. “I think we need a night of celebrating how he touched people and made everybody laugh. I think the whole goal is going to be to remember all those positive things and all the humor he brought into so many people's lives and how special he made a lot of people feel.”
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.