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RANKIN (KDKA) — There was a cake like any other birthday party, but it was for a young man who never made it to his birthday.

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Thursday was a chance for his community, family and others to come together where he grew up in Rankin to celebrate the life of Antwon Rose.

(Photo Credit: David Highfield/KDKA)

Rose would have turned 18. He was shot and killed by an East Pittsburgh police officer last month.

Rose was unarmed but shot three times as he ran away after the car he was in had been pulled over.

“A lot of anger and frustration,” said Brette Gaines, a friend of Rose’s mother, Michelle. “But a lot of happiness because there’s a lot of people here who really cared about a young man that should be here.”

His mother wanted the celebration, the First Annual Antwon Rose II Community Day.

“It was actually mom’s idea,” said organizer Joelisa McDonald. “She wanted to celebrate her son and keep his memory alive. And she also didn’t want to be alone on his birthday. And this kind of made it a little bit easier.”

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There was a tribute table with Rose’s picture, a poem he wrote, his skateboard and his guitar.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

But it was also a place for kids to have fun with face painting and a bouncy house.

Items were donated including backpacks which were given away to neighborhood children.

Rose’s mom says that would have made her son happy.

Finally, the crowd gathered for a prayer and then sang “Happy Birthday”, as his mom wiped away tears. The song ended with a balloon release.

There were no protesters there because organizers specifically said they did not want that.


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The officer charged with homicide in this case has a preliminary hearing scheduled in two weeks.

David Highfield