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Allegheny

Rankin's Hawkins Village holds birthday celebration for slain teen Antwon Rose

Megan Guza
| Thursday, July 12, 2018, 5:24 p.m.
Antwon Rose Jr.'s mother, Michelle Kenney, holds balloons prior to a balloon release at the conclusion of the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Antwon Rose Jr.'s mother, Michelle Kenney, holds balloons prior to a balloon release at the conclusion of the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Sparklers are lit prior to a balloon release at the conclusion of the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Sparklers are lit prior to a balloon release at the conclusion of the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
People hold balloons prior to a balloon release at the conclusion of the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
People hold balloons prior to a balloon release at the conclusion of the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Children look on as the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Children look on as the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Day at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
People shoot hoops during the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
People shoot hoops during the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Nails are painted at the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Nails are painted at the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Backpacks are given away at the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Backpacks are given away at the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Stacy Maerritt, 8, enjoys a juice while in the shade at the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Stacy Maerritt, 8, enjoys a juice while in the shade at the 1st Annual Antwon Rose Community Birthday Celebration at Hawkins Village in Rankin on Thursday, July 12, 2018.

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."

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