'He left us here to spread a message': Family of slain toddler hosts candlelight vigil

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

Detroit — More than 100 people stood in a neighborhood lot off the intersection of Interstate 75 and McNichols Saturday night to honor the memory of Brison Christian, the 2-year-old boy killed in a shooting near the same intersection on Thursday.

The vigil started around 9 p.m., as friends, family and members of the Detroit Police Department were joined by the public. Detroit police chaplains formed a ring of support around the family, shielding them from the crowd and cameras as several speakers shared a megaphone to speak to the crowd. 

People gather near Interstate 75 and McNichols in Detroit for a vigil to memorialize Brison Christian, the two-year-old boy who was shot near that location, on June 19, 2021.

The group demanded justice for the "senseless act" that took the life of Brison , said Chief Chaplain Lennell Caldwell.

"I always told myself, if my kids left this Earth before me, you might as well take me with them," Brian Christian said. "I feel like... he left us here to spread a message."

Officials also came out in support of the slain toddler’s family including ex-state Sen. Coleman Young II and Detroit Councilman Roy McCalister Jr.

"When you talk about somebody who is so young, they (the shooter) wiped out not only everything they was," Young said. "But everything they were going to be, everybody they were going to touch, everything they were going to do ... it's just a tragic event."

Coleman Young II attends a vigil for Brison Christian on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

A hat was passed around the crowd to collect donations to put up a billboard at the intersection where the shooting occurred. 

The speakers thanked police for the hard work they've put into the case, and asked that action be taken so the memory of Brison is never forgotten.

Daryl Porter and Roderick Watts, friends of Brian Christian, wore shirts that said "Long Live Brison" and said what they wanted was simple.

"We just want to see our kids grow up," said Porter. 

Michigan State Police announced on Twitter earlier in the day it had made "multiple arrests" in connection to the shooting, though no further information has been given. Brian Christian told police he was entering southbound I-75 from Seven Mile when a light-colored, four-door vehicle without a license plate pulled alongside and someone fired shots.

Brison Christian, 2, was killed on June 17, 2021 in a shooting that occurred on southbound Interstate-75 near 7 Mile in Detroit. Police say his father's black Ram pickup was targeted in a case of mistaken identity by gang members.

Christian's sons, Brison, 2, and BJ, 9, were both hit and transported to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. 

BJ was initially listed in serious condition but was later released.

Police are seeking what they describe as a late-model silver Chrysler 300, last seen on I-75 near John R.

Christian wonders if the shooting was a "targeted hit" intended for another dark pickup. 

"I believe they were looking for the same vehicle," the Dearborn resident said while mourning with relatives Friday night. "I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call MSP at (734) 287-5000 or 855-MICH-TIP.

Detroit News Staff Writers Mark Hicks and Leonard M. Fleming contributed.