DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – Antwane McClelland Sr. is a deacon at City of Praise Church. He’s praying for change in his city after two of his sons were shot and killed, just 13 months apart.
24-year-old Arrion McClelland died Sunday morning after he was shot in the head. His father shared his story at a vigil Tuesday night in Decatur.
“I’m never going to condemn my community. I love my community. I’m going to still fight for my community,” Antwane McClelland Sr. said.
Despite the pain of losing two sons, McClelland believes there’s still hope for others. That’s the message he shared Tuesday – less than three days after his son was murdered.
“Thirteen months he’s been gone. Just like every other young man, he was trying to find his way,” he said.
Last year, 26-year-old Antwane McClelland Jr. was shot and killed.
“He was my oldest son. Loved that kid to death,” Antwane McClelland Sr. said.
Then, tragedy struck again. 24-year-old Arrion McClelland died the same way as his brother.
“I miss him. I miss him so much. I miss Arrion so much.”
Antwane McClelland Sr. gathered church officials, community leaders and neighbors to pray for an end to gun violence at a vigil in honor of his children.
“I love my boys. I’m going to miss my boys. But at the same time, I want to help somebody and save their son.”
He said his sons were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it’s his mission to prevent it from happening to others in Decatur. But McClelland said he won’t give up on his city.
“They still have a chance. We can’t throw the towel on Decatur because this was going on,” he said.
While he works to save others in the midst of his own pain, a family friend wants to support them in return.
“It’s a very rare tragic event – to lose two kids in 13 months. That’s very rare,” Early West said.
That’s why he organized a fundraiser for the family. Between both McClelland brothers, six children were left behind.
“Even after you have the funeral, life still goes on. There’s still kids and families that still need some kind of support,” West said.
McClelland preaches the same thing – that life still goes on.
“They had to see a positive thing out of a bad situation. We can’t keep seeing negative, negative, negative,” McClelland said.
McClelland said the only way to heal is to come together. He wants to inspire kids to follow the right path, and encourage other men to be positive role models for them.
The family organized a car and motorcycle show in honor of Antwane McClelland Jr. That’ll happen at 3 p.m. on September 17 at Splash Cove Water Park in Decatur.