Vigil for hit-and-run victim in Petersburg brings tears, hope to track down driver

Posted at 10:42 PM, Apr 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-11 19:39:12-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- There were tears of sadness but also happiness as family and friends remembered the life of 16-year-old Steffond Swilley, Jr. on Friday.

Even though an afternoon downpour forced folks into the family’s garage, the message was heard loud and clear: An outpouring of love wouldn't end just because the clouds rolled in.

While those who came to pay tribute to Swilley were forced to make a run for it, a family member referred to the rain as angels’ tears to cleanse and comfort a grieving family.

"My son was loved and touched a lot of lives. You can see as people speak highly of him," said Deadra Swilley, Steffond’s mother.

He was interested in joining the army which would follow in his dad’s footsteps. Deadra Swilley is a Richmond police officer, who instilled values and discipline into her son.

"Somebody took his life," she said.

She was supported Friday by her work family, with a number of Richmond officers on hand. She says it's hard to stand by but says she’ll will let other police do their job.

"I know Chesterfield will do what they're supposed to do,” she said. “It takes time."

The fatal hit-and-run accident happened in the 700 block of Greyshire Road.  Swilley had set out to find his little brother when he was hit.  His dad found him in the road.

It's a community with one way in and one way out, leading many at Friday’s vigil to believe, the perpetrator might be nearby.

"Somebody knows and they need to speak up. Please, pretty please!" said Deadra Swilley.

She offered a final, passionate plea, begging anyone with information to come forward.

"Someone took his life and I’m asking you,’ Deadra Swilley said. “We have a just god out here, please turn yourself in.

"Do it for the sake of your family, because I know you have a family. I know you have kids out here.”

There will be a memorial service for Steffond Swilley, Jr. at Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Petersburg on Saturday at noon.