PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Funeral services were held Monday for 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr.
This was not a day for outrage at Woodland Hill Intermediate when the life of Antwon Rose Jr. was remembered. From Pastor Carter’s opening to Leon Ford Jr.’s eulogy, the service was about remembering a 17-year-old gone too soon.
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Donna Samuel’s grandchildren were in school with Rose.
“It was a celebration of a very young life. It was a celebrations of the things that he did, the people that he touched, the hearts of people. There were teachers, people he did volunteer work with, and everywhere he went, he touched somebody,” she said.
His Woodland Hills classmates remember a young man they just wanted to be around.
Madison Chontos says Antwon was “a beautiful human being and he was always smiling and just a truly wonderful person.”
Emerging from the auditorium Olivia Sistik says Antwon “truly touched people’s lives and it was evident in there.”
One woman says she just saw the family at Rose’s wake on Sunday. She says it’s been extremely difficult to watch the family grieve.
“It’s a very, very sad day. My condolences go to family and my heart goes out to family. I think the police officer should be in jail. Right is right and wrong is wrong and God does not like ugly,” Priscilla Lawson said.
“It’s wonderful family. I’ve known them for a long time starting with his grandmother, we grew up together. I hope justice is served, there’s no need for young black men to keep being killed,” Lillian McClain said.
In the stories and remembrances, a picture of Antwon Rose Jr. emerges that is in stark contrast to the way he died.
Classmate Kyle Fogarty remembers Antwon as “smiling 24/7, no matter what he was going through. He just wanted to make everyone around him happy, he lit up every single room that he walked into.”
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Monte Rabner is a lawyer representing the Rose family, but Monday, he just listened to the admiration pour out from speaker after speaker.
“He was a wonderful young man that he had hopes and dreams and just lived a wonderful life and was there for others. There was nothing but love in that room,” he said.
“I found myself smiling more than crying at some points because his memory and his spirit is going to live on and it’s evident,” classmate Sophia McCullough said.
This gathering was also about supporting Rose’s family. No matter the circumstances of a death, a mother’s grief is heart-crushing.
“His mom is going through a lot, but all the love that people are showing is helping her out. But it’s going to be a hard, hard, hard difficult time to get through. It’s terrible,” Antwon’s cousin Jeffery Walker said.
Those who shared in the celebration came out with the perspective shared by Donna Samuel.
“There was no anger, there was no animosity, it was like everybody was just one. We were unified and it was just amazing,” she said.
But don’t for a minute think the anger is gone. It was shelved Monday at the family’s request, but it simmered just below the surface and occasionally came to a full boil.
“People need to stand up and take responsibility,” Missy Carter, another of Antwon’s cousins, said. “Stand up and be accountable, stand up and do what’s right. My cousin’s life will not be in vain. I don’t care who, what, where, justice will prevail.”
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Several people attending today’s services were arrived on shuttle buses from the Braddock Hills Shopping Center.
A visitation was held Sunday afternoon, which drew a large turnout. The stream of people in and out of Tunie Funeral Home was steady. They were young, old, black, white, personal friends and those who came as a sign of support for Rose’s family.
The district attorney is investigating and will determine the outcome in this case.
He has said no decision would be made until after the funeral takes place.
Following the funeral service, the procession went to Versailles Cemetery in McKeesport for the burial.