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ROWAN REMEMBERED: Mayor, 100 others attend vigil for slain 4-year-old

ABOVE: Community members came to Tuesday night’s candlelight vigil at Struthers High School dressed in Struthers red and white and in shirts and masks made in Rowan Sweeney’s memory. Staff photo / Lily Nickel

STRUTHERS — Even the looming threat of a downpour Tuesday evening couldn’t drown out the steadfast support from the Struthers community on the first anniversary of the murder of 4-year-old Rowan Sweeney.

More than 100 community members came out for a candlelight vigil on the anniversary of Rowan’s death despite the storm clouds that hung overhead all night. The gloomy weather was fitting for the day and the feelings it brings, according to Rowan’s father, David Sweeney.

Several people spoke in support of David and in memory of Rowan, including Struthers Mayor Catherine Cercone Miller. D.C. Henderson, head of Save Our City of Youngstown, spoke about the senseless violence that claimed Rowan’s life, and how the community needs to work to build a better future for today’s children.

“The family of Rowan has been grieving ever since; we have to protect our children,” Henderson said.

On Sept. 21, 2020, Rowan was shot and killed in his mother’s arms during a home invasion that left four adults wounded, including Rowan’s mother, Alexis Schneider, Andre McCoy, Yarnell Green Jr., and Cassandra Mariscola. Rowan was the only one killed.

Three men were found to be involved and face several charges related to the incident.

Kimonie Bryant, 25, faces the death penalty if convcited of the several charges he faces, including four counts of aggravated murder. Brandon Crump, 18, faces aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, attempted murder and other charges for the shootings.

U.S. Marshals are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of Andre McCoy, 21, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

One year later, Rowan’s father leads the charge in bringing justice to Rowan. A memorial park is in the works, and he hopes for it to be completed by the second anniversary.

Sweeney said seeing the outpouring of support from the community reminds him of the love Rowan had for everyone, and that everyone continues to have for him.

“People love him and support him in so many ways. I know for a fact that he’s smiling because he just wanted to be loved by everyone,” Sweeney said. “He wanted to impress you, make you happy, make you laugh, and he definitely has been doing that.”

Rowan and the impact he made in his short four years continues to be Sweeney’s source of strength and his motivation to make the world a better place in his memory.

“Every morning I wake up thinking about him and how he should be here, and I should be waking him up. That’s my strength, I can do anything through his name and I will,” Sweeney said.

The vigil, which was supposed to begin at 8 p.m., was delayed a little because someone in the crowd passed out, possibly from a drug overdose. An ambulance took the person away, witnesses said.

news@vindy.com

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