Calling for Peace and Unity, Friends and Family Mourn Donovan Salgado

Screen shot 2011-10-19 at 10.37.38 AMDominique Zonyee Scott

A representative for the police said yesterday that they have identified but have not yet apprehended a suspect in the murder of Donovan Salgado, 17, who was shot to death on 12th Street near Avenue C early Sunday morning. Last night, around 100 friends, family members, and neighbors gathered in front of Mr. Salgado’s apartment building at 695 East Ninth Street for a candlelight vigil. Many told survival stories, and spoke of the struggles of growing up in Alphabet City.

“Keith died for the community to learn, for us to get it – violence is not the answer,” said one man who was no stranger to gang life.

The man, who chose not to reveal his name (“the community knows me by face,” he said) told the crowd he was a drug dealer for 20 years and managed to turn his life around and become a family man and honest worker. “You see this chain on my neck? This is from work money, not drug money,” he said. “This is our community and our family – we need to stop killing each other.”

Mourners wore hats and t-shirts bearing photographs of the boy they knew as Keith (his middle name). A memorial decorated with photos, religious candles, empty liquor bottles, and a poster board full of handwritten rest-in-peace messages sat next to the lobby entrance of the residence that he had called home since childhood.

Screen shot 2011-10-19 at 10.26.21 AMDominique Zonyee Scott

“My nephew didn’t even get to live – his life was taken, and for what?” said Iris Salgado, an aunt.

In between sniffles, she called for unity and an end to senseless violence. “I’m hoping that what happened to my nephew will open your eyes,” she said. “No matter your race or where you come from, we need to stick together.”

Kim Slater, a close friend of the teenager, disclosed a hard life of drug dealing, stints in jail, and rehabilitation. “I was a teenage mother and I have been in and out of jail,” she said to mourners. “It’s not worth it.” She offered advice on getting a G.E.D. and stressed that education was “key to avoid trouble and stay on the right path.”

“This is our community,” said Angel Seda. “Our mothers should not be crying on the Lower East Side. I am talking to you younger guys because you have to change.”

Those who grew up with the teenager shared their memories. “I used to chill, smoke and drink with him. He was my cousin and friend,” said one man with tears in his eyes.

The vigil lasted almost two hours and ended with a unified reciting of “The Lord’s Prayer.”