Durham vigil offers remembrance of shooting victim

Jan. 26, 2013 @ 08:52 PM

Jelani Dandy, a 24-year-old who loved dogs, would have seen his first child next month.

His life was cut short after he was shot multiple times on Driver Street in east Durham in November 2012. Police charged Terrell Inman, 20, with murder in the case.

On Saturday evening, about 20 people gathered near Durham’s Central Park, across from the farmer’s market, to remember Dandy with a candlelight vigil.

The Rev. Susan Dunlap, an adjunct professor from Duke University’s divinity school, led the vigil as those gathered formed a circle near a sign that read “Vigil Against Violence.”

“Durham is a town of food trucks and farmer’s markets,” Dunlap said, “but if you’ve been in Durham long enough, while it is an amazing and wonderful place to live, it also a place where violence persists.”

Some in Durham can remain safely hidden from that violence, she said. Dandy wasn’t so lucky.

“He died too young,” Dunlap said. “He died too soon.”

She also prayed for Inman, hoping that he would find peace, tell the truth and receive justice.

Jelani’s mother, Yolanda, had been planning to travel from eastern North Carolina to attend the vigil. However, icy conditions in the wake of Friday’s winter weather prevented her from making the trip.

Marcia Owen, with the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, said she spoke with Yolanda and “she sends her appreciation.”

His mother described Dandy as “intensely handsome,” Owen said. “Women loved him dearly,” she said. “He loved his dogs.”

The fact Dandy’s daughter will be born next month “breaks my heart open even more,” Owen said.

“Jelani was one of our own,” said Cathy Bridge, one of the vigil attendees. “He was one of our children and one of our friends. He was a special person we will all miss for not being part of our community.”

Owen lamented that Dandy was yet another victim of gun violence in Durham, but said that she felt privileged to help remember him.

“I am so honored to be here to bear witness to his life,” she said.

Next Sunday at 6 p.m., the coalition holds another vigil, this time for Johnny Danilo Villatoro, who died after, according to police, he was carjacked and shot in December after picking up three teens from Raleigh. That vigil will be held at the corner of Bon Air Avenue and Firth Road.

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On the Web: www.nonviolentdurham.org