With tears and candlelight, community gathers to remember Rowan Sweeney a year later

Local News

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – One year ago at this time, people were trying to wrap their heads around the fact that a four-year-old boy had been murdered.

On Tuesday night, a large crowd of 150 people gathered at the Struthers High School practice field for a candlelight vigil to remember Rowan Sweeney — the young boy who was murdered on that night.

The community mourned the one year anniversary of the death of Rowan Sweeney. He was just four years old when he was shot and killed at his mother’s home in Struthers.

A candlelight vigil was held for him Tuesday evening.

A benefit dinner for Rowan Sweeney is hoping to raise more money to build a playground in the little boy's honor.

“So many emotions. Obviously, all these people came out for Rowan. I’m so grateful and blessed to have it,” said David Sweeney, Rowan’s dad.

More than 100 people braved the rain to show support to the Sweeney family, sharing such memories as a family vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

“I had the time of my life with him. Never had an experience like that, and to come back home here in Ohio and I think no more than a month after that, he was gone and taken away from this world,” David said.

Rowan’s beautiful smile was remembered on t-shirts and in a six-minute memorial video.

“We miss him dearly. Not a day goes by I feel… I’m angry because I never got that opportunity to be that step-grandfather to him and to do the things that grandfathers do, like playing catch in the yard and taking him to get donuts,” said Kevin Williamson, a family member. “I was robbed of that.”

Family, friends and even strangers wiped tears away with one hand and held a candle with the other.

“We both really like his pets. His cats, his dogs and in general, we just really like to do stuff together,” said Kenzie Dugan-Boyer, Rowan’s cousin.

After the video, people lined up to hug David.

“It shows that he’s not forgotten. Everyone is here. What else would I have without the support of everyone?” David said.

But after everyone had gone home, David says he wants nothing more than to have a moment of peace to remember his son.

“Right now, I’m really just looking forward to going and having my own private conversation and talk with Rowan,” David said.

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