Friends, family, neighbors and teammates of DeAngelo Smith joined together for a candlelight vigil Saturday evening to remember the Golden Valley senior who was shot to death earlier this month.
The vigil began and ended at the spot where Smith fell to the ground after being shot at the Sunnyside Apartments in South Merced on Friday, May 14.
Many mourners carried candles in one hand and basketballs in the other as they walked slowly around the apartment complex. Some carried signs and others wore T-shirts bearing Smith's name with messages to him such as "gone but not forgotten" and "we love DeAngelo."
Following a prayer and sermon by The Rev. Dwight Amey, family and friends approached a tree near the spot where Smith took his last breath to say their final goodbyes. Since Smith's death, the tree has accumulated flowers, photos, signs and teddy bears.
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"I wanted everybody to have closure. We will never forget but we can start to heal." said neighbor Annette Alvarez who helped organize the vigil. Alvarez said that for many, Smith's death was just starting to sink in. "It really started to hit hard this week and I think it was just too hard for some of them to come tonight. I think a lot of us were still in shock."
Neighbors said that it was the first time they had seen a large amount of children out playing since the shooting occurred. Merced Police Lt. Andre Matthews said police have held Neighborhood Watch meetings with a noticeable increase in attendance since the shootings.