STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – A Struthers community is trying to grasp what happened after a 4-year-old was killed and four others were sent to the hospital following a shooting early Monday morning.
Neighbors along Perry Steet say they can’t believe this happened and want justice for whoever is responsible.
“I heard what was like firecrackers and that’s what you would think because it’s Struthers,” one neighbor said.
They discussed what they saw and heard overnight when a mass shooting claimed the life of Rowan Sweeney and hurt Andre Stephon McCoy, Yarnell Green Jr., Cassandra Marsicola and Alexis Schneider.
“I wish I had any inclination of what happened or I wish I would’ve saw something but unfortunately I didn’t,” said Mike Brady.
Brady lives right next door to the home where the shooting happened.
“It’s horrible. There’s nothing else to describe when somebody loses a child, let alone when it happens in your backyard,” he said.
Brady, a father of two himself, was asleep when the sounds woke him up. Confused, he went upstairs and fell back asleep. He woke up later in the morning to the details of what had happened just feet from his own home.
“It was chaos,” said Danielle Vasilchek.
Vasilchek was awake watching TV when she heard three shots, a pause and then three more shots.
“This is scary for our neighborhood. We’re a close-knit community here and it’s a shame,” she said.
Most residents on Perry Street have lived there for years, many for decades.
They say the street is typically quiet.
“I’m scared. I’m scared to be here alone,” Vasilchek said.
But now, the silence on Perry Street is because neighbors are shaken up and scared.
“We’re watching our back, we’re watching our houses and we’re watching our yards. We were told that he’s gone but how do we know?” one neighbor said.
According to the FBI, a mass shooting is whenever three or more people are shot, not including the shooter.
Before a press conference was held with more information about the suspect, Kimonie Bryant, who turned himself in to authorities around 8 p.m. Monday night, a vigil was held in honor of Sweeney.
It was held by the community, many of whom said Sweeney’s smile could light up a room.
Sweeney’s dad, David, told the crowd that he was so excited to start school and someday be a football player for the Wildcats. It was only fitting his candlelight vigil be held at the Struthers High School Field House in his honor.
“Rowan, man, I just feel for you buddy. I feel your pain, man. Oh God, dude, you’re so precious man,” David said.
A father’s heartbreak through tears.
“I love you forever, bro. I love you forever, man,” he said.
Around 200 people attended the candlelight vigil, many touched by the tragic story.
“Thank you for this precious family, Lord. I pray right now that you would be with them, that you wrap your loving arms around them, that you give them peace and comfort during this terrible time,” one attendee said.
Many brought balloons and stuffed animals with them, remembering the little boy who they say made all the bad days disappear.
“He was going to be something great. He was going to be great, he just had that ‘it,'” David said.
“He lived his life just so full of joy, bliss. Everything was an adventure to him, everything was just a new moment for him to experience and live and love,” one attendee said.
All the boy wanted was to love and be loved — he made sure everyone felt it, especially his dad.
“He followed you. He was always like, ‘Hey, if my dad does it, I got to,'” one attendee said.
“I think if we can take anything away from this it would be to try and live like how Rowan did, try to see the world how Rowan did because to him everything was amazing and awesome and cool, especially ‘cool,’ he loved that one,” one attendee said.
All of the items people left for Rowan were collected by the organizers, who plan on making a memorial outside of the home when police give them the green light to.
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