Community prays for 2-year-old shooting victim

Family, friends and strangers gathered at Coquillard Park Thursday night in honor of a 2-year-old who was shot and killed.

John Swoveland Jr. was playing in front of his aunt's home on East Campeau Street April 9 when a stray bullet hit him in the chest, killing the toddler.

Police say the bullet came from a gun battle between rival gangs, who were fighting near the park. The bullet traveled roughly three blocks.

"It's been a few years since we've had this much constant violence," said On-site Prayer Ministry Coordinator Michael Elliot. "It's hard on everybody. Hard on the community."

Many spoke out at the vigil about the recent rash in shootings, urging the community to take action.

Over the past month, several have asked what the city's doing to curb violence. But, many at the vigil said they play a crucial role in addressing the problem.

"Kids follow what we see and that's something we need to work on," said Stephanie Williams, the 2-year-old's aunt. "Some parents haven't been brought up in the best lifestyle. It's your chance to change it."

Others suggested local schools could do more to help, by implementing programs that teach kids morals and manners.

"The one constant you hear is the kids aren't getting structure at home," Elliot said. "So, if they're not getting it at home, they need to be getting it some place."

The vigil for baby John is the fourth in as many weeks.

The On-site Prayer Ministry will hold another on May 1 for 18-year-old Nathan Hall. Hall was shot and killed while riding his bike on Adams Street. Metro Homicide hasn't made any arrests in the case.

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