‘He had a smile that would light up a room’: Vigil held for Fresno’s first homicide victim of the year


FRESNO, California (KSEE) – A mother’s plea to end violence, after her 18-year-old son was shot and killed.

Dezon Cheatham was found shot to death in a car late Wednesday night, near Tyler and Fifth Street in Fresno.

A 17-year-old boy was also found shot in the face, just a block away. Police say that teen is still listed in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center.

The Fresno Police say he was a youth leader at his church.

As for Cheatham, they say he had just enlisted in the United States Army.

Police say both teens were not a part of any gangs and had bright futures ahead of them.

Many gathered Sunday night at the vigil held for Cheatham, his mother says he was looking forward to serving his country.

One by one with candles in hand, family, and friends gathered to remember Cheatham’s young life cut short.

His mother, Tiana Thomas, opening up with a prayer. “To be absence from the body is to be present with the Lord, so we now celebrate my son, Dezon Cheatham’s homegoing, we will see you on the other side, my love, Amen, Amen, Amen, in Jesus name, Amen,” she expressed.

Thomas still reeling from the sudden loss of her son.

“It’s been unreal, it’s been unbelievable, but we are children of God first and we understand that our lives are all in God’s hands,” Thomas explained.

She says these photos of Cheatham on display at the vigil give a small glimpse of his big personality.

“He had a smile that would light up a room, you would never forget that smile, he was goofy,” the victim’s mother said.

Thomas says her son, a graduate of Central East High School loved tennis and his teammates. She says he was always willing to lend a hand.

“He was very, very helpful, he would give the shirt off his back,” Thomas expressed.

Cheatham was scheduled to leave for the Army next month.

His cousin, Jasmine Edmondson, says his giving spirit is what would have made him a great soldier.

“He’s very caring for his friends, his family, everyone, always there for you, so that’s what I loved about him,” she expressed.

The family now left with unanswered questions as to why this happened.

“This violence has to stop, this was a senseless act, his killers, I hope they are brought to justice,” Thomas said.

Police say no arrest have been made. They are asking if anyone has information to give them a call at (559) 621-7000.

The family created a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.

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