Edwardsville, Ill–Almost two years to the day since Jaylon McKenzie was shot and killed at a party in Venice, Ill., prosecutors have filed charges in a case that captured the attention of the region and the football community nationwide.
Jaylen Staten, 20, was charged by the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office with possession of a stolen firearm, aggravated battery/use of a deadly weapon and aggravated discharge of a firearm.
McKenzie was months away from starting a high school football career and had already attracted interest from college programs when he was killed May 4, 2018. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, a St. Louis area native himself, defrayed McKenzie’s funeral expenses and has bonded with his family.
Since Jaylon’s death, McKenzie’s family launched a foundation in his name with the goal of ending gun violence. A “Justice 4 Jaylon” rally is planned for Monday night in East St. Louis. His mother, Sukeena Gunner tells FOX2 that she hopes the event will help end the “no snitch” culture surrounding gun violence and potentially help lead to stiffer charges in the case.
Gunner started the foundation because she knows Jaylon would have given back to his community.
“It’s really just hard to endure getting up every morning and knowing that my baby’s not here,” she said. “I just keep fighting every day to live for him, and to allow him to live through me.”
McKenzie’s mother hopes anyone with information about the case will contact investigators. Gunner wants no parent to experience the pain of missing a son’s presence and personality. She said, “We’re missing all of that every single day.”