Somber birthday celebration honors 10-year-old gunned down

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Birthday parties are supposed to be a celebration filled with joy, but one that happened Friday on the near north side carried on with heavy hearts.

De’Shaun Swanson would have turned 11 years old Friday, but he was killed 11 months ago in a shooting in the 3900 block of Graceland Avenue.

What’s normally a day of happiness was instead washed out with tears of sadness because “Little Man,” as he was affectionately called, couldn’t be there with everyone.

“That’s the travesty of it,” said minister David Coatie, who led the group in prayer. “You’re celebrating what would have been an 11-year-old birthday, he should be running around having fun with all these other little kids, but we’re celebrating his passing.”

On Sept. 19, 2015, De’Shaun was attending a celebration of life with his mother when someone fired several shots towards the home, hitting the 10-year-old and two other people. De’Shaun was the only victim who died.

On Friday evening, family and friends held his birthday celebration outside the very home where he was killed.

“Being back here, it brings back that night and it makes it all so real,” said his mother, Shannon Swanson. “But I was OK with coming back here today for him.”

That’s because the gathering is helping her create a new memory at the place that often brought her to tears.

“I just wanted to celebrate his birthday. I didn’t want everybody to be sad, I wanted them to celebrate,” she said.

Honoring his life wasn’t the only goal. Shannon wanted to make sure people remembered that the person responsible for killing her son hasn’t been caught.

“We still want closure, and we still want these people brought to justice,” she said.

“Until you get some closure, it’ll never go away,” said neighborhood activist Gregory Wilson. “You cannot even begin to heal because you know that person who has murdered your loved one is still walking the streets.”

In the weeks following De’Shaun’s murder, community groups and IMPD walked the streets searching for information. At last check, there was only a vague description of a silver compact car as the possible getaway vehicle. Anyone with information that can help lead to an arrest can call crime stoppers at 317-262-TIPS (8477).

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