Families hurt by local violence speak out
Balloons fill the sky at a “Stop the Violence” event Sunday in the Giant Eagle parking lot at Strabane Square, South Strabane Township. Visit observer-reporter.com for a photo gallery.
Aaron Kendeall / Observer-Reporter
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Rain had been falling steadily Sunday evening, but it relented just in time for roughly 100 people attending a “Stop the Violence” event to release balloons into the air.
“Enough is enough,” said Suzanne Kelley, sister-in-law of Vincent “Mystro” Kelley, who was fatally shot in June while trying to stop a suspected bank robber in the parking lot of Giant Eagle at Strabane Square in South Strabane Township. “There’s never any walking away anymore. Everyone needs to fight or shoot or stab.”
The event was coordinated by Vincent Kelley’s family, but organizers emphasized the ceremony was meant to honor all area victims of violent crimes.
“I think a lot of people are tired of what’s going on in Washington,” said Mark Kelley, Vincent’s brother. “Unfortunately, it takes something like this to bring people so close together.”
Poor weather didn’t stop the event from being well attended.
Dozens of members of the Brothers of the Hammer motorcycle club, of which Vincent Kelley was a member, wore black-and-red vests, and Washington Mayor Brenda Davis, who attended the event, gave a brief remark, saying the family had the condolences of the city.
Members of several families recently affected by area violence also came out in a display of solidarity.
Denise McNerney gave a brief statement supporting the Kelleys. Her son, Timothy McNerney, a Washington & Jefferson College football player, was killed after an altercation in October while he and a teammate were walking to campus. The family of Vaughn Simonelli, who was shot in October in the parking lot of Shop ’n Save in Washington, also attended the event.
“We just wanted to show our support,” said W&J football coach Mike Sirianni, who attended alongside about 20 football players. “End the violence, and stop this nonsense so we can live in a city and go to a school in a city free from violence.”
Bishop George Russell of Temple of God Church on East Hallam Avenue gave a prayer asking God to help the victims of violence and to bring a stop to the suffering it has caused in the area. Just then, hundreds of red balloons of various sizes and shapes floated into the sky as live musicians played “Get Together” by The Youngbloods.
Vincent’s daughter, Sierra Kelley, held a special motorcycle-shaped balloon after the event.
“I just need everyone to think before they act, because you don’t know whose life you’re going to affect,” she said.