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Vigil honors slain teenager

WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

The shocking murder of a 13-year-old Buffalo girl struck a chord among the many who turned out in her memory Sunday night in Martin Luther King Park.

13-year old Lanasha Rollerson should have been preparing for the first full week of school. Instead, her family is planning her funeral.

Rollerson was murdered a week ago and left lying behind a house near the home of the 21-year-old man charged with killing her.

"It's the illness that people are suffering. There are a lot of mental health issues in the community. People aren't addressing them," said Kareema Morris, Rollerson's maternal aunt.
"It's sad, that's what it is, that it's a 13-year old baby and it's unfortunate that people took so long to respond. We're more than grateful that they responded. I just wish they could have did it a little bit sooner," Morris said.

Morris said the teenager's parents are still upset and didn't appear the prayer vigil, however many of the teen's relatives attended.  The vigil, in front of the giant bust of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, was heavily religious, with calls for prayer and biblical calls for change.
"We need to come together collectively, as groups, clergy, individuals, you know, and just try to stem this tide of violence," said Pastor Charles Walker II.

Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news

"It's gotten to the point now where 13-year-old young ladies and boys and things like that are being killed senselessly. We're just trying to raise awareness and just pray. When all else fails, God is the answer."

Even as the crowd gathered, some talked of yet another fatal stabbing earlier in the day on the city's West Side.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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