WASHINGTON — The focus of a vigil for a 16-year-old girl killed the morning after Thanksgiving was on learning from what happened and preventing future deaths.
Breyona McMillian was killed in a shooting around 11:40 a.m. Friday in the 1200 block of I Street Southeast, near the Potomac Gardens housing complex.
Family, friends and community members came together on the basketball court of Watkins Field in Southwest D.C. on Sunday night, standing in a circle around lit tealights that spelled out McMillian’s nickname, “Bree.”
Attendees took turns speaking, but most of what they had to say was not about the girl who was killed. Instead, they focused on the need to make changes so more lives aren’t lost.
“This is God’s paradise and we are messing it up to the fullest by coming out here, killing us,” said one woman, who was McMillian’s great aunt. “We’re killing kids that haven’t even began to live.”
She added, “It ain’t about going out there and selling drugs. Don’t use guns. If you’ve got guns, it’s for the protection of your home, not in the street.”
She wanted people to “put the guns at home and leave them at home.”
As the vigil went on, one speaker called out to all the young men, especially a group of them who were talking and smoking pot on the outskirts of the crowd.
“Wake up! Because you’re all sleeping! Some of you are sleeping, living in a world that’s not real. Fast money — that’s not real. That’s not what manhood is all about. Carrying guns is not what manhood is all about,” he said.
And another attendee had a plea for those there to not continue the killing: “I know half of you all already talking about, ‘Oh, I know who it was. I’m gonna get him.'”
She added, “You gonna say you’re going to go get him. Look, let the law handle that. We don’t need people going in and out of the jails.”
D.C. police have not identified a suspect or motive in McMillian’s death.
There is a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest or conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 202-727-9099.
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