by Erin Perry

Family and friends gathered on the 1000 block of South Avenue in Wilkinsburg, the scene of a homicide that took the life of 17-year-old Jason Paylor, a promising science student. Paylor was honored in a vigil that was meant to bring a solution to a community that has seen repeated tragedy and violence.

THE FACE OF GRIEF—Jada Felder stands with the crowd of mourners at the vigil for Jason Paylor. (Photo by Erin Perry).

“We must stop the wreaking of violence that is taking lives daily and must somehow regain sanity,” said Adrienne Young, founder of the Tree of Hope, a faith-based organization that provides support for families who experience a sudden and tragic loss of loved ones. She stood huddled beside Lisa White, the mother of slain youth, as she cried a mother’s grief for a lost son whose potential can only be imagined. “We hope that someone will speak out and provide information about who did this,” said Lateik Hughes, cousin of Paylor. “Why did he have to leave us like this.”

As the vigil made its way through the streets of Wilkinsburg, Young ushered a sorrowful family and friends into the basement of Deliverance Baptist Church, telling the crowd that the community has gathered to “offer solu­tions.” With her were Wil­kins­burg Mayor John Thompson and Deliverance Bishop Michael Golphin. Both spoke of the need to come together. “It is not just the church’s responsibility,” said Golphin, “but all of ours. The community must partner with the churches.”

Students were encouraged to speak to the crowd of mourners, to give voice to the loss they experienced as youth. “It hurts me to see my friend’s mom down on her knees crying because her son was taken and will never come back. He was sitting behind me in class three days ago and I can’t believe he’s gone,” said Bettye Jean Peterson, an 18-year old Wilkinsburg High School senior. Several students echoed her sentiment, saying that Jason was a friend who made people laugh and never did anything to anyone.

The viewing is to be held Oct. 8 from 4-8 p.m. at Watts Memorial in Braddock and the funeral Oct. 9 at 11 a.m. at Mount Gilead Church in Wilkinsburg.

Donations can be made to the Jason Paylor Trust Fund at PNC Bank to help with the cost of the funeral.

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