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Teen killed in gunfight honored with balloon release, memorial in N. Charleston

Published: May. 22, 2022 at 11:21 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 3:59 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It’s been almost a year since a North Charleston 14-year-old was fatally shot and killed last year at what police called an “unauthorized concert,” and the community came together to celebrate the life of Ronjanae Smith with a balloon release.

A crowd released dozens of purple and white balloons that flew into the North Charleston sky on Sunday to honor a life taken too soon.

“It’s like still can’t be true, can’t be true,” Ronald Smith, Ronjanae’s father, said. “A year later, we’re still saying it can’t be true.”

“Ronjanae was the type of young lady that loved to do family things,” Katrina Sinclair, Ronjanae’s mother, said. “She liked to do things in the community.”

The event was held outside of Positive Vibes Ronjanae Smith’s headquarters on the corner of Reynolds and Rivers Avenue.

It featured food, drinks, live music and a bounce house for children.

“Every day is a struggle for our family,” Sinclair said. “It seems the hurt will never ease, but just to see people come out and support and spread her name brings joy to us.”

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess and State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis, who represents the area, were also in attendance.

Pendarvis has gifted $100,000 from the state’s budget to Positive Vibes to continue their efforts to curb gun violence in the area.

“We’ve got to support organizations that are on the ground doing the work,” Pendarvis said. “The best thing that I can do is to make sure we’re bringing money so that the resources that are available here are duplicated, so they can be successful.”

Burgess said in his over 30 years of policing, that he has never seen the community and law enforcement work with open hearts and minds as it is right now.

He said the memorial and balloon release is what the community needs to help control gun violence.

“Because the only way you’re going to defeat hate, you gotta show love, and this is love,” Burgess said. “These people are saying to Ronjanae’s family, Katrina and Ron and their family, listen, we’re never going to let folks forget what happened.”

The parents said they will have a small family ceremony marking one year since their daughter’s death on Monday.

Malachi Wigfall, Tye Robinson Jr., Tyquan Cooper and Manqual Horlbeck all face charges of manslaughter, 12 counts of assault and battery and one count of possessing a firearm during a violent crime in connection with Smith’s death.

They are all awaiting trial. 14 others were injured in the May 22, 2021, shooting.

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