LYNDHURST, Ohio (WOIO) - An emotional night in Lyndhurst as family, friends and members of the community came together to pay tribute to a teen lost to gun violence.
It was on July 5 when 15-year-old Ke’Viania James was shot in the head while simply riding in the car in East Cleveland with her aunt.
Brush High School Cheerleading Coach Jasmaine Rucker in Lyndhurst broke down in tears as she talked about the student who loved to cheer and always found a reason to smile, “I’ve been coaching over 11 years and I’ve never lost a cheerleader. Ke’Viania was so sweet. She always had a smile on her face. That’s one of my favorite memories of her is that no matter the situation she always found a reason to smile.”
Semika James was Ke’Viania’s mother and tells 19 News, “My daughter was very outgoing. She’s easy going. She loved cheerleading so much. Oh my goodness she loved it. And she was a very likeable kid. She had big pretty white teeth. Big pretty white teeth. I’m going to miss that smile.”
More than 100 people gathered at the Brush football field in Lyndhurst for a balloon launch in Ke’Viania’s memory, paying tribute to a teen who cheered on life and all it had to offer.
But in the end was robbed of her future by gun violence and a stray bullet. Through tear-filled eyes her mother said, “I just wanted everybody to keep her memory alive.”
As purple balloons were distributed to family, friends and community members one by one, her Godmother Edith Wheeler echoed the mother’s sentiments, that it’s time to find out who took this young girl’s life.
“Because it’s unfortunate she’s 15 and she’s lost her life to something that was out of her hands. Just innocence taken,” Wheeler said.
But as the tears were wiped away for now, everyone looked to the sky in remembrance. The victim’s mother counting to three and then the release of a sea of purple balloons.
As the balloons all floated up in to the sky, everyone yelled Ke’Viania’s nickname, “Kay, Kay!”
One final cheer for a girl who always cheered for everyone else. “Everybody loved her, and nobody is going to forget her,” Semika James said.
The victim’s father, her older and younger brother all thanked everyone for their support.
Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of a suspect in the case.