Ypsilanti — The family of an Eastern Michigan University football player slain last week joined hundreds of students in a rally and candlelight vigil Thursday.
“He was a wonderful child,” said Tanesha Reed, mother of Demarius Reed, found dead in his off-campus apartment Oct 18. “He loved his family. He loved football. He loved life.”
Increase the Peace drew hundreds for a march, a rally and a candlelight vigil for Reed. Two rapes and three assaults on campus were reported over the last weekend.
“There are so many things that happened over the past weekend, so it was really a concern,” said Brandon Britt, president of the university’s black student union, one of the organizations to coordinate the event. “This could have happened to any of us,” he said.
Also attending was the family of Julia Niswender, an EMU student found dead in her bathtub last December. There have been no arrests in her slaying.
Kim and Jim Turnquist, her parents, said they attended the vigil in support of the Reed family. Kim Turnquist said that two weeks before Reed died she met him while she was working at Meijer. He spotted her Justice for Julia bracelet.
“He was comforting me,” she said of their hourlong conversation, during which they talked about how the 20-year-old communications major came from Chicago to attend EMU for football. She said she was shocked to learn Reed himself was a victim of violence. Reed was shot multiple times in what police say may have been a robbery. A reward for information has grown to $10,000.
Tanesha Reed said she wasn’t surprised her son left an impression on Turnquist. “He’s the type of person, he would touch people in a way you would remember,” she said.
Tanesha Reed said her son was the first in her family to go to college.
Both mothers urged the students to speak up if they hear or see something unusual.
“Don’t stay silent,” Turnquist said. “You see something, you hear something, you call.”
Starting today, EMU police will increase patrols north of campus, EMU Chief of Police Bob Heighes said.
Police ask anyone with information in the case to call (800) 773-2587 or go online to http://www.1800speakup.org.
Associated Press contributed.