Prayer Vigil for Amir Suluki

Rashad Coleman (left) hugs Amir Suluki III, whose brother had the same name and was shot on New Year’s Day in Gilpin Court. The elder Suluki died a few days later.

Amir Suluki Sr. gave both of his sons his name.

With the older son gone — Amir Suluki, 34, was shot on New Year’s Day in Gilpin Court, Richmond’s most dangerous public housing community, and died a few days later — the two Amirs who remain carry the name proudly and in memory of their fallen son and brother.

As the family gathered Wednesday evening to remember him, the eldest Suluki put his arm around his younger, now only, son.

Friends spoke words of encouragement to the father, telling him to “keep it together” and “stay strong” for the third iteration of himself, 11-year-old Amir Suluki III.

The older man, who wore a goatee and solemn expression, told the crowd he knew his son who died was no angel, but that he didn’t deserve to be killed like he was. The family said the middle Suluki was shot in the back of the head.

Sharon Broaddus, a clergy person and member of Citizens Against Crime Inc., the organization that held the vigil on behalf of the family, told the family “not to focus on how he left. But where he is.”

“You all hold on to each other, and forgive one another,” she said.

One friend of the deceased Suluki said he didn’t condone violence because “retaliation wouldn’t bring him back.”

“What soothes my pain right now, is that he’s with his mother,” said his aunt, Pat Coleman. Suluki’s mother died 20 years ago. “In my ear, I could hear rejoicing.”

Coleman said she hopes the violence that’s hurting so many families like theirs will stop.

Last year ended with 66 lives lost to violence in the city of Richmond. Already, three more lives have been taken this year.

Coleman and Broaddus reminisced about a time when they were all younger, and folks could fight then go back to being friends afterward. Nods of understanding rippled through the crowd.

Young people today can’t do that, they said.

Instead, they end the fight, and a life, with a gun.

After candles were extinguished and balloons released in his brother’s honor, Amir Suluki III left his family to play basketball with some of his friends on the courts at Lucks Field, where the vigil was held.

The elders looked on, hoping for a better end.

arockett@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6527

Twitter: @AliRockettRTD

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