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D’Angelo Jennings's family celebrates his 18th birthday with a message to the community

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- At the beginning of this year, D’Angelo Jennings’s life came to an end because of gun violence.

Saturday afternoon his family celebrated what would have been his birthday at LaSalle Park in South Bend.

D’Angelo’s family wants him to be remembered for the person he was. “He was a young guy, his smile lit up the sky,” said his father James Jennings.

D’Angelo’s birthday passed a week ago; he would’ve been 18 years old.

In January of last year, D’Angelo was shot and killed when a disagreement was settled with a gun.

“It’s very painful, it’s unexplainable,” Jennings explained.

Now, the grieving father is determined to put an end to violence in the city.

“The violence in South Bend, Indiana is astronomically out of order,” said Jennings.

Jennings applauds the police department and other city workers, but he says a change needs to come from somewhere else. “It’s up to an individual to make a choice, to change their behavior… Cut the crime, put your guns down.”

Under a pavilion in the middle of LaSalle Park, D’Angelo’s family gathered to celebrate his birthday without him, because of a choice and a gun.

The family was also celebrating Janye Griffin’s 17th birthday today. He wasn’t able to celebrate with his cousin.

“He was a good person, he didn’t deserve to die like that. But it’s crazy he should be here,” Griffin said.

“I hide a lot of pain and tears and stuff, but I’m comforted by a power greater than I am,” D’Angelo’s father said.

His family believes D’Angelo is watching over them.

Jennings hopes his son’s story can help make a change in South Bend.

“A young teenager in South Bend Indiana today hopefully you can see this. If you know D’Angelo, he’s speaking to you. Change your way of thinking,” Jennings said.

Torreay Fennessee was charged with voluntary man slaughter in D’Angelo’s death; his trial is set to begin in October.

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