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Vigil marks 6-year anniversary of Clairton coach's death

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, March 27, 2015, 5:16 a.m.
A candlelight vigil took place at George Washington Carver Hall in Clairton to remember Demonje Rosser, who was murdered March 26, 2009. Praying are (from left) cousin Clinton Brown, brother Lamont Rosser Sr., minister with Mount Olive Baptist Church Lillian Tucker, mother Geraldine Rosser, and nephews Ziare Rosser and Deron Ford.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
A candlelight vigil took place at George Washington Carver Hall in Clairton to remember Demonje Rosser, who was murdered March 26, 2009. Praying are (from left) cousin Clinton Brown, brother Lamont Rosser Sr., minister with Mount Olive Baptist Church Lillian Tucker, mother Geraldine Rosser, and nephews Ziare Rosser and Deron Ford.
Dr. Marjorie Davis, a minister in training at Morning Star Baptist Church, Clairton, leads a circle of prayer in memory of Demonje Rosser Sr. To her right is his brother Lamont Rosser Sr., Robert Lee and Mitzi Norris Osborne.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
Dr. Marjorie Davis, a minister in training at Morning Star Baptist Church, Clairton, leads a circle of prayer in memory of Demonje Rosser Sr. To her right is his brother Lamont Rosser Sr., Robert Lee and Mitzi Norris Osborne.
Clairton High School football players (left) sophomore Lamont Wade and (right) Harrison Dreher lead the breakdown, or chant, that their youth football coach, the late Demonje Rosser, used to do. Behind them are Rosser's family members, cousin Clinton Brown (left), brother Lamont Rosser Sr., mother Geraldine Rosser and nephews Ziare Rosser and Deron Ford.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
Clairton High School football players (left) sophomore Lamont Wade and (right) Harrison Dreher lead the breakdown, or chant, that their youth football coach, the late Demonje Rosser, used to do. Behind them are Rosser's family members, cousin Clinton Brown (left), brother Lamont Rosser Sr., mother Geraldine Rosser and nephews Ziare Rosser and Deron Ford.
Mylisha Burns sings 'Can't Give Up Now' by Mary Mary during a vigil in remembrance of her slain brother, Demonje Rosser, on the sixth anniversay of his death.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
Mylisha Burns sings 'Can't Give Up Now' by Mary Mary during a vigil in remembrance of her slain brother, Demonje Rosser, on the sixth anniversay of his death.

A former Clairton High School assistant football and midget league coach, killed six years ago, has not been forgotten.

That is the message delivered by friends and family of the late Demonje “Monche” Rosser Sr. on the anniversary of his death during a candlelight vigil and celebration of his life in the community room of George Washington Carver Hall at 565 Reed St.

“They make me sad and also happy looking back over the years and the good times,” mother Geraldine Rosser said about the event Thursday evening. “I'm hoping that somebody knows something and will come through and tell something about this murder.”

Demonje Rosser Sr., 28, of Clairton was shot in front of his home at 541 Park Ave. on March 26, 2009. Allegheny County detectives responded to the shooting at 12:27 a.m.

Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said he was pronounced dead at Jefferson Hospital at 1:04 a.m.

“There's no way everyone on the street was asleep or didn't hear or see anything,” Demonje Rosser Sr.'s older brother, Lamont Rosser Sr., 46, said. “I am convinced that neighbors know (and) are too scared to tell or too close to the ones who did it to speak up. I'm here saying we need to stop the violence. We need to stop the senseless killing.

“Monche was somebody's child. He was somebody's nephew. He was somebody's cousin. He was somebody's grandchild. He was somebody's father. He was somebody's football coach. He was somebody's role model. He was also somebody's enemy. ... He was my little brother, and his death has not been in vain. I promise to keep his memory and legacy alive. That's why we're here today.”

Lamont Rosser Sr. said the family has been in contact with county detectives through the years, but no arrests have been made.

He said several rumors about the murder have led to a motive of jealousy, but no one has come forth with a suspect.

“He was way before his time. He was the type of person that people followed,” Lamont Rosser Sr. said. “You knew if you followed him, you were going to have a good time and you were going to be taken care of. He had that charisma.

“Monche was loved and liked by a lot of people, but there were a lot of people that were jealous and envious of him. He had the nice car, the good job and didn't sell drugs and wasn't in the street.”

Geraldine Rosser said she does not understand why someone would take her son's life.

“That's what bothers me the most,” she said. “He'd never been in trouble.”

Demonje Rosser Sr. grew up in the former Blair Heights projects.

He was a 1998 Clairton graduate. He attended Edinboro University and served in the Army. He was owner of Monwar Trucking Inc. and was married with three children.

About 50 people showed their support to the Rosser family. Activities began with a prayer circle led by Marjorie Davis, a minister-in-training at Morning Star Baptist Church.

The crowd went outside Carver Hall for the candlelight vigil. Black and orange balloons, a dozen each, were released into the cloudy skies. They are the Clairton City School District's colors.

The Rev. Lillian Tucker of Mt. Olive First Baptist Church led a prayer as the candles burned and emotions got the best of some.

Demonje Rosser Sr. was a longtime volunteer coach in Clairton's midget league.

“The whole (football) team was always in my house,” Geraldine Rosser said. “Football practice was in my living room.”

Sophomore running back and corner back Lamont Wade, 16, and junior running back and linebacker Harrison Dreher, 17, recalled playing for him years ago and the impact he left on their young lives.

“It's crazy the way he passed so quick,” Harrison said. “It feels good being here to support his family. He helped us out a lot and showed us how to be role models, how to work hard. He was a role model to everybody. He was always there for us.”

Lamont Wade said he was 10 years old and preparing for school when his mother, Joy Wade, Demonje Rosser Sr.'s former baby-sitter, broke the news of his death.

“He was like an uncle to me,” Lamont Wade said. “My mom was crying. I asked her what happened. She told me Monche died. I went to school and was crying the whole day. I had to leave early and it was a mess.”

Lamont Wade and Harrison led the crowd in Monche's breakdown, a chant his teams would do before games.

Attendees went back inside Carver Hall and heard Demonje Rosser Sr.'s sister, Mylisha Burns, sing “Can't Give Up Now” by Mary Mary, and his cousin, Denyse Johnson, sing “Be Blessed” by Yolanda Adams.

Family photos were shown via a slideshow and collages were taped to the walls and pillars of the community room.

People took turns sharing stories about Demonje Rosser Sr. and calling for an end to violence.

Lamont Rosser Sr. said there are more than 10 unsolved murders in Clairton, including that of his brother, as he read the names of the victims.

Anyone with information regarding Demonje Rosser Sr.'s death may contact Clairton police at 412-233-6213 or Allegheny County police at 412-473-3000.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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