Rankin's Hawkins Village holds birthday celebration for slain teen Antwon Rose
Michelle Kenney didn't want to be alone on what would have been her son Antwon Rose's 18th birthday Thursday, less than a month after he was shot and killed.
Instead of spending it alone, the family of Antwon Rose threw him a party and invited anyone who wanted to stop by. Hundreds did during the course of the Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin.
"She didn't want to be alone, the family didn't want to be alone on his birthday without him here," said Joelisa McDonald, a close family friend who organized the event. "She thought if she was surrounded by people who loved (Rose) and who appreciated him while he was here on earth that it would help her get through this day."
Rose was shot and killed as he ran from a felony traffic stop June 19 in East Pittsburgh, sparking days of protests that have continued into July. Rose, who was unarmed, was shot in the elbow, face and back. East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld has been charged with homicide.
That wasn't what Thursday's celebration was about though, McDonald said.
"We're celebrating his birthday," she said. "But we're kind of taking the focus off the fact that it is his birthday and he's not here."
Vendors donated food and drinks, and there was a bounce house, face-painting and other games. Clothing was donated for school children, as were new backpacks for school.
"He was a giver, he was selfless, he was kind," McDonald said of Rose. "It's kind of, in a sense, symbolic of him."