Chaz Black was overcoming a troubled time in his life, but he was holding down a job and looking for more work. He made A's and B's at Henry Clay High School and was trying out for the football team, his family said.
At a vigil in Chaz's memory at the Charles Young Center on Wednesday night, friends, relatives and community leaders asked dozens of teens to put aside differences and rivalries and live by that example. More than 300 people attended.
A sea of teens wearing red and black — Chaz's favorite colors — raised their hands when friend Corey Dunn asked who loved Chaz.
"If you love Chaz so much, then how hard will it be to live for Chaz?" Dunn asked. "Every single day when you wake up, make sure that you do something positive. Make sure you're doing something where you won't have your mother and father upset and crying.
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"Make sure you choose good friends."
On Sunday, Chaz, 16, was shot to death inside an apartment on Palumbo Drive. Police have said there was a disagreement between several people in the apartment. Friends of Chaz quickly spread the story that the disagreement was over money lost in a dice game.
Deointa Hayes, 21, is charged with murder in Chaz's death and with two counts of assault in the shooting and injuring of two other teens. He has pleaded not guilty.
At the vigil, Chaz's father, Adrian Black, and stepfather, Alonzo Alcorn, stood beside Chaz's mother, India Alcorn.
Chaz Black's 12-year-old cousin, Daelin Edwards, read a poem he wrote in honor of Chaz. Daelin said Chaz was like a brother to him.
"I feel so blessed because my son was loved by so many people," India Alcorn said, fighting tears. "I thought I was the only one that loved him to this magnitude."
Those in attendance who weren't wearing red and black were wearing white T-shirts with pictures of Chaz printed on them. Many had dollar bills clipped to their clothes — a nod to the teen's nickname, "Dolla."
Daelin Edwards, Chaz's 12-year-old cousin, read a poem that drew tears and laughter from the crowd. Pastors and ministers spoke candidly. After a final prayer, the group released dozens of red and black balloons at sunset. The balloons starkly contrasted with the orange sky as they slowly drifted out of sight.
Chaz's death is the latest in a series of shootings that have injured and killed teens — or landed them in jail — throughout the city in recent years.
In the most recent fatal cases, college student Tommisha Taylor, 19, was shot and killed at her mother's home on Thoroughbred Way in May. Kendrick Williams, 17 at the time, was charged with murder. The same month, Brian Edward Carr Jr., 19, was gunned down outside a bar on East Main Street.
Other shootings have taken place since then in which teenagers were injured or charged in the crimes. In some cases, their names weren't released because they were younger than 18.
The speakers and the audience vocally agreed Wednesday that the cycle needs to stop.
"Put your gun down for Chaz. Walk away from a fight for Chaz," said Quinton Roberts, a friend of the family.
Dunn followed up on Roberts' statements.
"It's up to us to decide whether we're going to continue to have candlelight vigils or to do bigger and better things," he said.