YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – About 100 people gathered Saturday for a candlelight vigil to honor Van Lightning, the first victim of gun violence in Youngstown this year.
“He was a clown, always joking around,” said Nyarh Simmons, Van’s niece.
He was a great father and giving person, said those who knew him.
“He was very loving. Anything I asked of him, he would come. He would do it for me,” said Sylvia Cox, his aunt.
Family and friends say Van leaves behind a void that can’t be filled.
“That’s a part that is going to be missing that they took from us. It hurts me so deeply that my nephew is gone. That I will never see him again until we all meet again in heaven,” Cox said.
Friends and family bought blue balloons and candles to the parking lot on the corner of Parkview and Glenwood avenues.
They played Van’s new songs, gave speeches in his memory and released the balloons.
Now, the family is focusing on getting answers.
“I just want them to find out who murdered my nephew. I just want to find out why did they take an innocent life that didn’t have to be taken and can’t be given back,” Cox said.
They are keeping Van’s spirit with them.
“They took his body, but they didn’t take his soul. He’s still living through us. We will keep him alive,” said his sister Terry Lightning.
Youngstown Police are investigating Van’s death as a homicide.
This is the city’s second homicide in 2021.
In 2020, 28 people were killed.
More stories from WKBN.com: