Fractured family speaks out at two vigils honoring 12-year-old killed Sunday morning
Monday night a fractured family grieved the loss of 12-year-old Andre Smith, Jr., who was beaten to death Sunday morning. Family and friends held two vigils to honor the boy.
Milwaukee police are still not saying if the suspect is in custody, though the department does say they know who it is. But family members say a few weeks ago they were celebrating Andre's birthday, now they have to plan for a funeral.
Andre's aunt says, "When somebody did wrong to him he just kept smiling. He didn't ask for this. He loved to love people."
Dozens of family, friends and perfect strangers gathered Monday night to remember 12-year-old Andre Smith, Jr. with balloons, song and prayer. DeDe Davis, a minister with Comforce, said, "Comfort his family, God. Give them the strength that they need, God. Give their mind peace, God."
The vigil was held outside the home where Andre lived in the care of his grandmother, who fought his mother for custody. His grandmother said he loved his family, and his distraught aunt expressed her grief, saying, "I tried to save my baby and I couldn't. I couldn't, man."
Andre's brother Ashton was also injured in the attack. He was too emotional to talk. But Andre's best friend did his best to honor the boy. Willie J. Knox says, "There was this one thing I loved about him. He was unique, and he had a good taste in friendship."
Across town, Andre's mother -- who says she's tried for years to win back custody of the boy -- held another vigil. She said he called her Friday at the stroke of midnight to wish her a happy birthday. It was the last time they talked.
Nakeda Martina says, "I miss him. He would tell me he loved me every time and just randomly hug me at home. I won't ever feel that again."
And a former bus driver said she had deep conversations with the boy, and wanted to be there for him at Monday night's vigil.