Candlelight vigil calls for action after 16-year-old’s death

Published 1:36 pm Monday, March 13, 2023

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On Saturday night, a candlelight vigil was held in memory of 16-year-old Nasir Truitt who was shot and killed near Southbend Park on the night of March 4.

LaGrange Police arrested and charged 15-year-old Brandon Harrison, Jr. for Truitt’s murder the following day. One week later, community leaders, the city and Nasir’s family organized a vigil at the skate park to call for an end to the violence and remember the teen’s life.

“LaGrange is better than this. LaGrange is much better than this. If we work together as brothers and sisters, we can eradicate all of this senseless violence here in our city because LaGrange is a loving city. It is a city that sticks together,” said former LaGrange City Councilman Willie Edmondson.

“Let us never forget the light that has been taken away from us. Let us never forget this mother and this father, these grandparents that suffering right now. Let us use this night as a learning tool so that we can go from here and help to make this a great city,” he urged.

Councilman Leon Childs said he met Nasir at a mentoring lock-in event for young men.

“[Nasir was] a very well-mannered young man, a spirit that you will never ever forget in your life and you just wonder why would anyone want to hurt such a beautiful spirit and such a beautiful young man,” Childs said.

Childs called for positive action to be taken in Nasir’s name, saying the city shouldn’t have to get together to mourn the loss of a young man at the age of 16.

“We will use Nasir Truitt. His body has left here, but we will use his spirit as a rallying cry to take action,” Childs said. “It is now time for all of us, the city, county, the community, the parents, friends, all of us to come together to make sure that no other child will have to die and perish like Nasir Truitt.”

“This is a wake-up call. A wake-up call that we need to get it together,” said Nasir’s great-grandmother, Emma Truitt. “I’ve never seen so many young people hate each other.”

“It’s time for us to get together and get right with God. That’s what it’s going to take. Get our kids back in Sunday School, and church, get them off the streets. There’s nothing good out there in the streets. We’ve got to bring them back home and teach them,” Emma said.

Emma said that when she was growing up people would fight, but they would make up the next hour or day because they loved each other.

“But they don’t fight anymore. They let the guns do the fighting,” she said.

Emma described her grandson as a happy kid who loved to eat, fish and look after his family.

“He loved life. He lived it to the fullest. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to live every day to the fullest because we don’t know when our time is coming.”

Nasir’s parents Landis Swanson and Erica Truitt spoke at the end of the ceremony, just before the balloon release. Hundreds of balloons were released in Nasir’s honor along with fireworks, which his parents said he loved.

All of the balloons were white except for two released by Narsir’s father. Swanson released black and gold balloons in his son’s honor. He said Nasir had been wearing a black and gold shirt that he had given him when they last spoke just hours before Nasir’s death.

“It’s gold because he’s the golden child. I love him. He’s fixing to do wonders. He’s fixing to do great things. He’s fixing to move souls. He’s fixing to change this violence. It’s fixing to stop,” Swanson said. “We’ve got to get together. We’ve got to be leaders.”

Swanson challenged everyone in attendance to be a leader to help end the violence.

“Only love will overcome evil, only love will be great,” Swanson said.

Erica urged the mothers in the crowd to spend time with their kids.

“You’re never going to know when it might be your last. It doesn’t matter if it’s just going to the mall or going to the lake or to get ice cream,” Erica said. “Y’all, love on your kids. Hug your kids. Get in your kids’ lives.”

“I’m in mine, but I can’t get my son my son back to do what I was doing with him before he left,” she said.