CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Jonathan McPhearson’s oldest sister is numb.
“I don’t think I have heart anymore.”
She and McPhearson’s mother were 2 minutes from their apartment on West Kirby Avenue when they got the call that Jonathon had been shot.
They were on their way to unlock the door for him when it happened. McPhearson’s mother and sister spoke to WCIA before the balloon release, on the condition their faces and names were not released.
“We just got off the phone with him,” His sister said. “He said, ‘I’m waiting for you all.’ And I said that we was on my way. And I got a call from my friend and they said that your brother’s out here in the street, shot.”
Friends and family from Champaign and Chicago gathered outside the same apartment building Friday night for a balloon release to honor him. His sister says she wants people to remember the good parts of her brother.
“He wasn’t a perfect, he wasn’t a perfect teenager,” She said. “I just want to remind everybody to remember my brother had a good kid.”
City leaders and community activists joined the sea of people releasing those balloons. The tragedy of yet another young life lost to gun violence weighed on everyone there.
“This is very unfortunate that you’re never supposed to bury a 17-year-old due to a violent act such as gun violence,” Janice Walker, Project Manager with C-U trauma and Resilience, said at the release.
McPhearson’s family echoed that sentiment. They’ve seen others affected by this violence, but still can’t comprehend why it happened to him.
“I just want i just don’t know when it will stop. It needs to stop,” his sister said.