UPDATE: Annual block party remembers teen killed in "random act of violence"

Published: Apr. 12, 2017 at 9:59 PM EDT
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UPDATE 4/22/2017 @ 11:40 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A community on Charleston's west side came together Saturday to remember a teenager who was killed in a crime police call "senseless."

Tymel McKinney was gunned down three years ago while sitting on his front porch eating pizza. Detectives tell WSAZ he was the innocent victim of random gang violence. They say Detroit gang members were behind the April 2014 murder.

The 3rd annual block party in Tymel's memory took over a section of 6th Street for several hours Saturday. It is an opportunity for community members to reflect and have a good time. Organizers hope the block party is also an opportunity for strangers to get to know each other, for neighbors to become friends and for friends and family to grow closer.

"I need all the love and all the support I can get right now," Tymel's mother Deanna McKinney tells WSAZ. "Hopefully this is one of those moments that you can come around people that you don't know and get to know them, you know, become friends, become neighbors."

McKinney was surrounded Saturday afternoon by her own family and friends, some of whom she has gotten to know following her son's untimely death.

"Out of the tragedy, formed some friendships as well as some real tight bonds within the community," said Lt. Steve Cooper with the Charleston Police Department. "I've become good friends with Deanna and her family, and I enjoy spending time with them, not just at these events, but on a regular basis."

McKinney credits her close friendship with Lt. Cooper and Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers with how they were able to fund this year's block party. All together, they raised nearly $4,000 for the party, equipped with food, prizes and moon bounces for the kids. Cooper tells WSAZ the event would not have been possible without support from JB Akers, Maryclaire's husband and the Charleston city clerk.

"I think you just can't put a price on what this means to the kids," Akers tells WSAZ.

Through the block parties, that McKinney is working to make an annual project, this heartbroken mother is reclaiming her grief.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A third annual block party is scheduled later this month to honor the life of a young man gunned down in 2014 by Detroit gang members, the victim's mother tells WSAZ.

The event in honor of the late Tymel McKinney will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. April 22 along 6th Street between Glenwood and Park avenues.

A flyer refers to the event as a "party celebrating life and friendship."

McKinney was gunned down April 23, 2014, while at his home on Charleston's West Side. He was only 18 at the time.