After Vista Jackson, 14, was shot and killed Thursday by her boyfriend, Keller McQuay, at McQuay’s residence in the 1000 block of Albert Street, hundreds of people gathered there Saturday for a candlelight vigil.
McQuay is also 14 years old.
Elderly men and little boys wept. Moms held their teenage sons and daughters close to them. Friends and family lit candles, wrote on a memory board, prayed, and sang together.
They filled the street as Jackson’s brother, Johnathon Bogan – still in shock – stood in front of the crowd and explained how hard it was to lose his sister.
“We all die, but to lose your sister so young is hard,” he said as he cried.
People remembered Jackson’s manners — how she talked to her elders properly.
“I saw her every day and when she would pass by my house she would say: ‘Hi Ms. Tara!’ And now I will never get to see her again,” said Tara White, McQuay’s neighbor.
White told the crowd that if they didn’t come together and help take care of each other’s children that they would eventually pick up guns and join gangs.
“Us adults — and there ain’t none of us that are perfect — we all got to pull together,” she said.
McQuay’s stepfather, David Z. Williams, Sr., told the crowd how McQuay’s father was murdered 15 years ago on Jacato Drive.
“And when I met Vista, I told her that I wanted to meet her father,” Williams, Sr. said. “So I walked her home.”
A felon, Keller was court ordered not to be around Vista, but the two often defied the order, Williams Sr. said.
He maintains that McQuay and Jackson were not fighting when she was shot. The two, 14-year-old children were in Williams’ house with McQuay’s 12-year-old step sister.
“This was not an abusive situation and it was not a domestic dispute,” Williams Sr. said. “Keller was holding a rifle and he was playing around with it when it went off.”
Williams doesn’t know where McQuay got the gun, but he believes members of a street gang may have had something to do with McQuay arming himself. Despite the reasons why McQuay had a gun, Williams believes that if he did the crime, he should do the time. Still, he doesn’t believe what happened was intentional.
“My stepdaughter was there,” Williams said. “She was the only witness and she said she heard Vista laugh and there was a pop.”
Last month, McQuay had let a man he really didn’t know into Williams’ house. The man, who was on drugs, held a gun to Williams Sr.’s head to try to rob them. Grabbing the gun from the man, Williams was shot in the foot.
“I was upset and I, too, wanted to kill that man, but God said: Vengeance is mine,” Williams explained and told the crowd that they should not be vengeful.
Despite Williams’ assessment, McQuay is facing felony charges of first degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon with very adult consequences.