NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — An emotional evening in Niagara Falls as the life of 24-year-old Jaylan McWilson was remembered. He was shot and killed outside his family home on Jan. 21, and now the community is standing up against violence.
Family, friends and strangers gathered at True Bethel Baptist Church to rally against violence in his memory.
“Put down the guns, put down the glock, and clean up your block, said Pastor Tim Newkirk of GYC Ministries. “That’s my pledge to you young people out there put down the glock and clean up your block.”
Pastor Craig Pridgen said when he first came to Niagara Falls Jaylan’s mother Marsha told him stopping the violence should be his focus.
“And here we are gathered today to bury her son or to celebrate her son’s life, a person who really did end up fighting for non-violence in our streets,” Pastor Pridgen said. “I have made it my life’s goal as pastor here at True Bethel to always have the door open. Not just for the folks who look like church, but for those who don’t have an outlet, those who don’t know who to reach out to.”
Anti-violence activist Jeanne Legall didn’t know Jaylan. But, after her brother was killed in the 70s, she made peace her mission. Legall brought displays to the rally with the names and faces of those lost to senseless violence.
“And when they walk by and see these faces and names, they see a lot of their friends and relatives on those boards and then it clicks in their minds, ‘I better get off these streets or else I’m going to be next,'” Legall told News 4.
Jaylan was his mother’s “miracle child,” he’s remembered as fashionable, funny and a talented musician.
He leaves behind a loving family and community.
New on WIVB.com
- ‘I would do anything for her’: Josh Allen surprises family for daughter’s birthday
- Bandits star Josh Byrne practices, ‘there is a chance’ he plays in championship game
- Allstate stops accepting new property insurance applications in California
- Erie County Clerk: Fake license plates “very” prevalent in Erie County
- $800K in damages reported from fire in East Amherst
Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.