PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria community members are remembering a life cut short due to gun violence.
Loved-ones of Dequwan Pruitt, 15, held a candlelight vigil in his honor Wednesday night.
Police said Dequwan was shot multiple times Monday afternoon in front of 2400 Sheridan Road just after 2:34 p.m. Officers said he was transported to the hospital with critical injuries, but died early Tuesday morning.
Family and friends returned to the same location for a vigil and balloon release Wednesday night to honor his memory.
“I miss him so much,” Demrice Nichols, Dequwan’s mother, said. “He always told me ‘mom be strong, be strong about everything.”
“I just love my son and I wish he was still here.”
Nichols said she was actually headed in her son’s direction when he was gunned down.
“I was on my way to come and get him and everything,” Nichols said. “I know he was crying, I know he was. I know he needed help to get up. They took my son too soon.”
She fought back tears as she reflected on her son’s memory. She said he was her third son and somebody who’d give his last to anybody. She said Dequwan, also known as “Nook,” was intelligent, but he could also be a bit much at times.
“He was smart, he was a handful, but he was a smart little boy,” Nichols said. “He was a sweet child, everybody loved him… Teachers, friends, family. Even family that isn’t kin to him.”
She said her son was a Richwoods High student who loved to play video games, especially Call of Duty. She said he wanted to become a rapper when he grew up and got his rapping skills from his older brother.
Now, she said their family crushed that his dreams and life were both cut short. Mary Dunigan, Dequwan’s grandmother, said the family wants justice for his murder and closure.
“I know it’s going to take a while,” Dunigan said. “Long as we be strong about it, we can make it through anything.”
Dequwan’s loved ones sent off Green, Black, Red, and Silver balloons into the dark sky in his honor. They said although he’s not physically here anymore, he’ll always be with them.
“I love you Dequwan so much,” Nichols said. “Everybody loves you out here.”
Loved-ones have also set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his funeral and burial expenses.
Dequwan was the city’s 29th homicide and the search is still on to find his killer.