Family celebrates birthday of teen shot and killed in September

ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Family and friends celebrated the birthday of a teen who was shot and killed in Elkhart in September.

Jaiden Cooper was found dead near some railroad tracks in the 900 block of Wagner Avenue.

Thursday would have been Cooper's 17th birthday.

"He just touched a lot of lives. He met a lot of friends in Elkhart," said Derrick Matthews, a teacher at The Crossing, Cooper's school.

Family and friends honored his life and legacy by lighting candles and releasing balloons.

Cooper's former teacher had nothing but good words to share.

"He was just full of life. He always did what I asked him to do," Matthews said.

Matthews also said Cooper was talented and excelled in the trades.

His mother, Christy Johnson, said her son had a lot to give.

"My son's future was bright. He was very optimistic. He was very outgoing. ... How energetic he was. How kind-hearted he was. How caring he was. That's what I would want them to remember," Johnson said.

Johnson is still processing her unexpected loss.

"The best that can be expected with the circumstances. I mean, it is hard, and a struggle, I have, to live with. …You have to stay close to memories and think about the good times," Johnson said.

The case right now remains unsolved.

Cooper's mother is asking the community to help solve her son's murder and for the killer, or killers, to turn themselves in.

If you have any information, you are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers.